Two Years Later, Griffin Gift Impacts Potential Donors

More than two years after Kenneth C. Griffin ’89’s record-breaking gift to Harvard in support of the College’s financial aid program, administrators said the gift has been impactful both for hundreds of undergraduates and potential donors.

Griffin, the founder and CEO of Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, donated $150 million to Harvard in February 2014. The terms of his gift specifically allocate at least $125 million to new scholarship funds for the College—the financial aid office was renamed in Griffin’s honor the following fall.

Director of Financial Aid Sally C. Donahue said the size of the gift, which was the largest amount ever donated to the College at the time of its announcement, has played a major role in inspiring other alumni to donate to financial aid.


“Financial aid has always been a way of contributing to Harvard that resonates deeply with alums,” Donahue said. But, she added, the publicity that surrounded Griffin’s gift was a very public reminder of the significance of alumni donations.

“People have a renewed sense of the fact that our program is possible thanks to the generosity of our scholarship donors,” Donahue added. “The fact that the office is now named the Griffin Financial Aid Office signals that to people who might not be exposed to that on a daily basis.”


Griffin’s gift benefits as many as 800 undergraduates every year. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 wrote in a statement that the gift has underscored the College’s “long-standing commitment” to accessibility regardless of financial means.

“Ken Griffin’s extraordinary gift has, and will continue to, transform the lives of many students at Harvard College,” Fitzsimmons said.

The donation was notable for a number of reasons beyond its record size. The gift was announced just one year into Harvard’s Capital Campaign, which is still underway as it nears a $6.5 billion goal for the University overall.

As part of the campaign, Harvard intends to raise $600 million for financial aid, meant to ensure the University’s financial aid program “continues to be as strong and robust and generous and supportive as it has been,” Donahue added.

The gift announcement also coincided with the 10th anniversary of Harvard’s Financial Aid Initiative, which provides support to low-income students and ensures that Harvard’s admissions process remains need-blind.

“My goal with this gift is to help ensure that Harvard’s need-blind admission policy continues, and that our nation’s best and brightest have continued access to this outstanding institution,” Griffin said in the 2014 press release announcing the donation.

—Staff writer Aidan F. Langston can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AidanLangston.