Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government announced last night that it had received a $2 million gift from Qatar’s minister of foreign affairs to establish fellowships for students from the some of the world’s poorest countries. [SEE CORRECTION BELOW]
“This fellowship will make an enormous difference and a real opportunity for the people themselves and for their countries,” Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood ’75 said before the agreement was signed.
The gift would establish fellowships bringing students from impoverished nations to the Kennedy School to receive leadership training.
“We are helping talented leaders from poor countries meet their potential,” said H.E. Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al Thani, who established the fund in honor of his late father, Sheikh Suhaim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The fund is intended to further the Kennedy School’s mission of public service in countries across the globe.
“It’s a wonderful gift to the world,” Ellwood said.
Ellwood said that this fund is an outgrowth of Qatar’s economic development.
“It’s also an indication of them reaching out and being part of a larger set of connections,” he added.
Sheikha Mona J. Al Dossarey, the widow of Sheikh Suhaim, spoke of her husband’s legacy as the driving force behind the gift.
“I do believe we can make a difference in the lives of many, which would make my husband proud,” she said.
Last night’s gift represents a less politically-charged overture than some other donations offered to Harvard by leaders of Middle Eastern nations.
In 2004, the University returned a $2.5 million gift from United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan—pledged four years earlier—after it was deemed that a think-tank funded by Zayed promoted an anti-Semetic agenda.
Political tensions were again in the air when Harvard accepted a donation of $20 million by Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud in 2005, whose pledge of $10 million to the Twin Towers Fund was rejected by New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani due to Alwaleed’s pro-Palestinian message.
But talk at last night’s event was of creating opportunities and looking to the future.
“As I look ahead to my lifetime and beyond I see a world of great disparity and a huge gulf exists between those who have much and those who have little,” said Sheikh Sultan. “We are helping talented leaders from poor countries meet their potential.”
—Staff writer Lindsay P. Tanne can be reached at email@example.com.
The Feb. 20 story "Fund To Spur Public Service" said that a donation received by the Kennedy School came from the foreign minister of Qatar. In fact, the gift, was from H.E. Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al Thani, who established the fund in honor of his late father, Sheikh Suhaim bin Hamad Al Thani. The elder Al-Thani, not his son, served as foreign minister of Qatar.