Like many philanthropists before him, Stanford MBA graduate and successful venture capitalist (Peninsula Capital) Bob King sees higher education as a central platform for improving society. From Kathryn Roethel of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Stanford University will announce one of the largest cash gifts in school history today – $150 million to the Graduate School of Business to create an institute that develops creative ways to fight poverty worldwide.
It all began with $1.25.
That’s the amount of money that 1.4 billion people in developing countries live on each day, according to the World Bank. And that’s the statistic that Bob King, founder of Menlo Park investment firm Peninsula Capital, and his wife, Dottie, cite when explaining why they decided to make the gift.
“We wondered, how might we do something bold and significant,” said King, who earned his MBA at Stanford in 1960. “Something like giving light to the slums (without electricity) in Nairobi, or something to improve the health of the children born there. Something that could combat malaria or alleviate AIDS in Africa.”
King said he and Dottie considered all of the poverty-fighting charities they could support directly, but picked Stanford because it will give students and professors a platform to do research in other countries and then return to create solutions using university resources.
Entrepreneurs have been key builders of universities in America and its clear that their vision in business is often matched by a ‘societal’ vision through their ‘investment’ in students, professors, and lines of research. This investments provide ongoing impact rather than just filling short term needs (see charity).
The role of philanthropist in the growth of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship on campuses cannot be overlooked as we try to assess, understand, and improve entrepreneurship in higher education.
BTW, here is some of what Stanford will do with the funding:
Business School Professor Hau Lee will direct the program, called the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, known informally as Seed. He said many professors and students in the business, law, medical and engineering schools at Stanford already have been doing projects that fit the Kings’ goals, but the magnitude of their gift “will allow us to do something big.”
Plans include awarding travel grants – both to Stanford students who want to test products and ideas in developing countries, and to students from those countries who want to visit Stanford and seek support for their poverty-fighting solutions.
Lee said the institute also will offer stipends to students who want to take internships in developing countries for little or no pay – a big perk for those who have to weigh the humanitarian internships against well-paying summer jobs on Wall Street.
Institute leaders are creating entrepreneurial courses, some of which will begin this academic year. They also plan to expand many existing courses and bring them into the institute.