Benefactor Donates $10 Million to GSD

The Graduate School of Design announced last Wednesday that John K. F. Irving ’83 and his sister Anne Irving Oxley have donated $10 million to the school in honor of their father John E. (Jack) Irving.

This donation will kick-off the GSD’s segment of the University-wide Capital Campaign, which aims to expand faculty research, increase financial aid funding for students, and provide interdisciplinary research scholarships.

“This gift is not about promoting a single program—this gift is about the future of the school in a world facing increasingly complex challenges," Irving, who is also a co-chair of the GSD Campaign Committee, said in a speech at the announcement party on Wednesday.


One portion of the gift will allocate funds for student fellowships and expanded research opportunities for faculty members. Funds will also be used to promote research on the relationship between landscape architecture and contemporary urbanism, one of the passions of the Irvings’ late father.

Money allocated for “immediate use” will support the John E. (Jack) Irving Dean’s Innovation Fund, an undergraduate concentration in Architectural Studies, and renovations to Gund Hall, the main GSD building, according to a press release on the school’s website.


“The John E. Irving family’s generosity toward Harvard—not just to the School of Design, but to the College and the Business School—reflects this vision of a vibrant and collaborative university community,” GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi said in the press release.

GSD students, faculty, and staff said they are excited about the expansion opportunities that this donation could catalyze.

“I think [the donation] will allow the school to have a larger presence in the Harvard community as a whole,” said GSD architecture student Kayla M. Lim, who attended the announcement party. “I think it will allow the school to grow in diversity through financial aid, which would be really great.”

Robert M. Angilly, a library assistant who has worked at the GSD for more than 30 years, said that the gift could also enhance resources for scholarship. “We may be purchasing and accessing different sorts of materials than what we have now,” he said.

Students also said that they were surprised that two people who had never attended the GSD could be so generous. Irving is the current president of Ocean Capital Investments in New Brunswick, Canada while his sister, who became acquainted with the GSD at its summer Career Discovery program, is a director at Ocean Capital Investments.

“Neither of them had gone to the Design School which was pretty interesting,” Lim said. “It’s cool that people who don’t even go here see the value of design education.”

—Staff writer Mariel A. Klein can be reached at


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