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Maryland matches $1 million donation from Brin family for professors at UMd

Sergey Brin talks at a 2018 TED conference. (Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Sergey Brin talks at a 2010 TED conference. (Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

The state of Maryland has matched a donation from the family of Google co-founder Sergey Brin to endow two professorships in computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park, the university announced Wednesday.

The $1 million from the state will match a private donation to endow the Brin Family Endowed Professorships in Theoretical Computer Science.

“The Brin family is extremely grateful to the state of Maryland for this match,” said Samuel Brin, Sergey’s brother, in a statement. “Our family is committed to Prince George’s County and the University of Maryland, our home for many years. These professorships will help the computer science department continue to push forward and thrive, across all frontiers of computation.”

The state funds come through the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative. The fund is designed to bring more private donations to universities in Maryland for applied research in scientific and technical fields. The initiative does this by matching private donations.

Since the initiative launched in 2015, the university has received more than $8 million, mostly towards the college of computer, mathematical and natural sciences. All told, $7.3 million in funding has established six endowed professorships in computer science, four chairs in computer science, life sciences and mathematics.

“This strong public-private partnership will help generate the knowledge that powers high-tech innovation in the state,” Wallace D. Loh, the university’s president, said in a statement. “Together, the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Brin family will enable us to recruit two more world-class scientists to our growing computer science hub. We appreciate this important support.”

The program is also indicative of the ways in which the university has tried to spur fundraising as it tries to catch up to some of its peers. Over the past couple of years the school has announced mega-donations, including $219 million from the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation last year.

But it also wants to increase smaller donations and encourage more alumni to get in the habit of giving back to the school. Matching contributions has been one way of doing that. As part of the $219 million gift last year, the Clark Foundation also announced the creation of a $100 million scholarship fund that would come from half Clark and university money and half matching contributions.

The university publicly launched a $1.5 billion fundraising campaign in May. The Brin professorships are part of that campaign.

The new professorships will focus on faculty members in the area of theoretical computer science. This involves solving problems in networks, computer graphics, image processing, architecture, social networks and epidemiology by applying rigorously developed theory and algorithms, the university said.

It also includes research priorities at the university like cryptography, data science and machine learning, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

The Brins’ involvement with the University of Maryland has been a family affair.

In addition to Sergey and Samuel, their father, Michael Brin, is a professor emeritus of mathematics.

Three years ago, Michael and Eugenia Brin endowed a chair in mathematics with a match from the E-Nnovation initiative.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct a previous version’s description of the $100 million financial aid fund. The Clark Foundation portion of the gift was included in the $219 million gift. The university previously described it as a separate contribution. The match provides $25 million from the Clark Foundation, $25 million from the university and $50 million from private donors.

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