First-Generation Alumnus Donates $25 Million to Harvard for Financial Aid, Hockey Program

UPDATED: June 22, 2016, at 6:42 p.m.

Financier and first-generation alumnus Timothy R. Barakett ’87 and his wife Michele Barakett donated $25 million to the University to bolster its financial aid program and fund its varsity hockey program.

Barakett, who attended the College and was a beneficiary of the financial aid program, now serves as a co-chairman of both the Harvard Campaign for Arts and Sciences and the Financial Aid portion of that campaign.

Barakett’s donation endows Harvard’s new “start up” grants—$2,000 stipends that the College will provide starting next fall for students from low-income backgrounds in addition to their existing financial aid package. The program is designed to reduce the burden of textbook purchases and other expenses for incoming students.

Barakett’s gift will also endow a new, unrestricted scholarship fund, adding to the over 1,500 individual endowments that make up Harvard’s financial aid program. In recent years, Harvard has made significant steps to expand the scope of its aid with the goal of eliminating the need for students to take out loans while attending the school. Still, 24 percent of graduating seniors in 2015 reported taking out loans with a median total amount of $10,900.


Barakett’s donation marks yet another multi-million dollar gift Harvard has reeled in during its historic capital campaign, which surpassed its $6.5 billion goal in May. The financial aid office received a $125 million dollar gift from hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin ’89 in 2014, which resulted in the office being renamed in his honor.

Barakett emphasized that supporting the financial aid pays dividends in the long run.

“A gift to financial aid has a greater impact than just four years of college for these students,” Barakett said in a press release. “We want to help empower them to create their best Harvard experience, and never to feel they are on the periphery.”

Barakett also donated $1 million to the College’s varsity hockey program. During his time as an undergraduate at Harvard, Barakett and a teammate earned the nicknames “Killer B” for their performance on the ice.

Barakett and his wife are the founders of a private family foundation that provides funds to Harvard and the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University, among other organizations.

—Staff writer Brandon J. Dixon can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BrandonJoDixon.

CORRECTION: June 22, 2016

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the profession of Timothy R. Barakett.