$100 million given to study malaria

Monday, May 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON – Johns Hopkins University announced Sunday that an anonymous donor has pledged $100 million to the school – the latest in a remarkable series of nine-figure donations to U.S. colleges – to create an institute devoted to finding a new vaccine and treatment for malaria.

This is one of the largest gifts to a university designated for a single purpose – in this case, to battle a disease that kills more than 1 million people every year.

Hopkins officials had talked to the donor about the need for new classroom and laboratory space on their Baltimore campuses. But the philanthropist had loftier aims, said Alfred Sommer, dean of the university's public health school.

"The response was, 'I know you need space and buildings, but that's not going to make a real difference in the world,'" Mr. Sommer recalled.

Aided by a surging stock market, benefactors started showering U.S. colleges with epic sums of money in the late 1990s. Institutions of higher education received about $19.4 billion in gifts in 1999-2000, the vast majority from a small number of donors.

In the past few months there have been: a $350 million gift to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $360 million for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and last week's gift of $400 million to Stanford University from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.