New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged $350 million to Johns Hopkins University, mainly to expand its interdisciplinary research on an array of issues including global health and urban revitalization as his lifetime giving to his alma mater eclipses $1 billion.
The university announced the commitment late Saturday saying it believes Bloomberg, who amassed his fortune creating the global financial services firm Bloomberg LP, is now the first person to give more than $1 billion to a single American university.
The $350 million commitment is the largest ever to the Baltimore-based university, Johns Hopkins said in a statement.
Most of the latest gift, $250 million, will be part of a larger effort to raise $1 billion to foster cross-disciplinary work at Johns Hopkins, the statement said. Funds initially will be used toward appointment of faculty for interdisciplinary work on an array of issues that also will include individualized health care delivery, sustainability of water resources and the science of learning.
The remaining $100 million is to be devoted to need-based financial aid for undergraduate students, awarding 2,600 Bloomberg scholarships in the next 10 years, it said.
It added that the latest gift brings Bloomberg's giving to the institution just more than $1.11 billion in the 49 years since he graduated — including his first gift of $5 in 1965 only a year after he received his bachelor's degree in engineering from Johns Hopkins.
"Johns Hopkins University has been an important part of my life since I first set foot on campus more than five decades ago," Bloomberg said in the statement issued by the university. "Each dollar I have given has been well-spent improving the institution and, just as importantly, making its education available to students who might otherwise not be able to afford it."
Bloomberg added that he hoped the giving would make a difference in people's lives. "I know of no other institution that can make a bigger difference in lives around the world through its groundbreaking research — especially in the field of public health," he added.
University president Ronald J. Daniels praised Bloomberg for being a "visionary philanthropist" for social good on the order of Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and the school's founder, Johns Hopkins. Daniels said the chief impact of Bloomberg's gift would be to strengthen the university's multi-disciplinary approach to resolving major societal problems.
"This latest initiative allows us to greatly accelerate our investment in talented people and bring them together in a highly creative and dynamic atmosphere," Daniels added. "It illustrates Mike's passion for fixing big problems quickly and efficiently."
Money from the gift is expected to endow 50 distinguished professors to be recruited worldwide with expertise spanning traditional academic disciplines. The school said the work of those recruited would bridge disciplines and schools such as medicine, the humanities, public health and education, social science and engineering.
The New York mayor has remained closely involved with the university where he graduated in 1964, including stints on its board of trustees from 1996 to 2002 and as chairman of Johns Hopkins Initiative fundraising campaign.
The university said Bloomberg made his first $1 million commitment to the university in 1984, 20 years after his graduation. Later gifts included $120 million toward the construction of a children's section at The John Hopkins Hospital in honor of his late mother. All told, the university said, Bloomberg's philanthropy has benefited Johns Hopkins in many ways including improvements to facilities, research and the quality of its student body.
The latest gift touched off praise and excited reactions online and on the university website following the announcement.