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New York mayor tops $1B in gifts to Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins University says New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $350 million pledge is the largest gift it has ever received.

The university announced the commitment late Saturday. It said the money will be used mainly to expand Hopkins’ interdisciplinary research on an array of issues including global health and urban revitalization.

Bloomberg, who amassed his fortune creating the global financial services firm Bloomberg LP, is believed to be rhe first person to give more than $1 billion to a single American university.

Hopkins said the latest gift brings Bloomberg’s giving to the institution to just more than $1.11 billion in the 49 years since he graduated. His first gift, of $5, came in 1965, only a year after he received his bachelor’s degree in engineering.

“Johns Hopkins University has been an important part of my life since I first set foot on campus more than five decades ago,” Bloomberg said in the statement issued by the university. “Each dollar I have given has been well-spent improving the institution and, just as importantly, making its education available to students who might otherwise not be able to afford it.”

Bloomberg added that he hoped the giving would make a difference in people’s lives. “I know of no other institution that can make a bigger difference in lives around the world through its groundbreaking research — especially in the field of public health,” he added.

University President Ronald J. Daniels praised Bloomberg for being a “visionary philanthropist” for social good on the order of Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and the school’s founder, Johns Hopkins, a Quaker entrepreneur who was an early investor in the B&O Railroad. Daniels said the chief impact of Bloomberg’s gift would be to strengthen the university’s multi-disciplinary approach to resolving major societal problems.

“This latest initiative allows us to greatly accelerate our investment in talented people and bring them together in a highly creative and dynamic atmosphere,” Daniels added. “It illustrates Mike’s passion for fixing big problems quickly and efficiently.”

Money from the gift is expected to endow 50 distinguished professors to be recruited worldwide with expertise spanning traditional academic disciplines. The school said the work of those recruited would bridge disciplines and schools such as medicine, the humanities, public health and education, social science and engineering.

The New York mayor has remained closely involved with the university where he graduated in 1964, including stints on its board of trustees from 1996 to 2002 and as chairman of Johns Hopkins Initiative fundraising campaign.

The university said Bloomberg made his first $1 million commitment to the university in 1984, 20 years after his graduation. Later gifts included $120 million toward the construction of a children’s section at The John Hopkins Hospital in honor of his late mother. All told, the university said, Bloomberg’s philanthropy has benefited Johns Hopkins in many ways including improvements to facilities, research and the quality of its student body.

The latest gift touched off praise and excited reactions online and on the university website following the announcement.

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