Donors delay multimillion-dollar gifts to Harvard
By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
BOSTON (Reuters) – Prominent donors have delayed
multimillion-dollar gifts to Harvard University since Lawrence
Summers resigned as the school’s president and a search began
for his replacement, people familiar with the matter said on
Last month, Oracle Corp. chief executive Larry Ellison
announced he would not donate $115 million to Harvard because
Summers’ participation in overseeing how the money would be
spent was crucial.
The former U.S. treasury secretary in the Clinton
administration announced his resignation in February after a
turbulent five-year tenure.
Now, billionaire magazine publisher and real-estate
developer Mortimer Zuckerman, Richard Smith, a former member of
Harvard’s governing board, and banker and philanthropist David
Rockefeller have delayed making their gifts, the Wall Street
Journal reported on Thursday.
Harvard declined to speak about the matter, citing a
long-standing policy of protecting potential donors’ privacy by
not commenting on gift discussions. The men could not be
reached for comment.
But people familiar with the matter said several large
gifts that had been discussed have not yet arrived.
Boasting a $26 billion endowment, Harvard has long ranked
as the world’s richest university, often able to attract
multimillion-dollar donations from its 328,000 alumni and
others who support the university’s projects.
But when Summers, known for a brusque management style that
alienated some Harvard faculty members but also admired for
trying to reshape the 370-year-old school, stepped down,
speculation mounted about how his departure would affect
The university ended fund-raising for its fiscal 2006 at
the end of June but does not have final numbers yet. Officials
said fund-raising was quite strong into the fourth quarter.
Harvard said benefactors often take extra time in making
large gifts during times of change.
“It is quite normal in situations of leadership transition
in any not-for-profit organization for donors who are
considering very major gifts to wait for a new leader to be in
place before finalizing and announcing a major commitment,”
said Sarah Friedell, a spokeswoman at the university’s Alumni
Affairs and Development Department.
Former Harvard President Derek Bok has agreed to return as
interim president until a permanent replacement is found.