A billionaire real estate tycoon, originally from Hong Kong, has just donated the largest gift in the 378-year history of Harvard University, $350 million to be exact, according to a press release by the school. This is certainly a positive step toward Harvard’s current fundraising campaign, which has a goal of bringing in $6.5 billion by 2018.
Julio Frenk, Harvard’s dean of the health school’s, called the gift “transformational,” and said it will be used for addressing pandemics, humanitarian crises, failing health systems and social and environmental threats to health.
Gerald L. Chan donated this historic gift after being inspired by his mother’s volunteer work, vaccinating children in China since the 1950s. Chan’s mother, a nurse, administered vaccines to neighborhood children in the family kitchen, using the same needle repeatedly and disinfecting it in boiling water.
Chan said he was also inspired by his father’s decision to support the education of friends’ children overseas.
“In keeping with my mother’s work in improving people’s health and my father’s commitment to education, my brothers and I thought it most fitting to celebrate their legacy with a gift to Harvard School of Public Health,” he said.
Chan, who lives in Newton, Mass., has recently also bought more than $100 million in real estate in Harvard Square in recent years. His father, after whom the school is named, founded one of Hong Kong’s largest real estate firms in 1960.