Few of even the most ambitious econ majors expect to make $300 million. Fewer still give that much money away. Up until Wednesday, no business school had ever received a donation that large.
The Booth family’s $300 million gift to the Graduate School of Business—now the University of Chicago Booth School of Business—will do more than just set a record. The donation will benefit the entire University by bolstering its ability to teach and conduct research.
If there is a discipline that the U of C is best known for, it is economics. From Milton Friedman to Steven Levitt, the U of C has affected modern economics more than perhaps any other university. Along with the creation of the Milton Friedman Institute, “Chicago Booth,” as the University has dubbed it, ensures that Chicago economic and business research will be just as much a force to be reckoned with in the 21st century as in the 20th.
As will the University. The increased visibility that hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding for Chicago Booth faculty, facilities, and research provides will help the entire University community. Every department, from Anthropology to Visual Arts, will benefit from the increased value of a University of Chicago degree or a University of Chicago faculty appointment. It certainly does not hurt that the first University of Chicago–affiliated president will soon be in the White House.
And back in Hyde Park, the president of the University of Chicago is doing fairly well, too. The Booth family’s donation comes just 18 months after the University’s previous record setting gift—the $100 million anonymously donated to create the Odyssey Initiative. Robert Zimmer may be unpopular with some students and faculty for his style and management of controversial issues, but no one can now deny that Zimmer is a successful fundraiser. In the arms race among elite schools for funding and prestige, Zimmer is helping the U of C give richer schools a run for their money.
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