Billionaire Zell Pledges $60 Million to University of Michigan

Sam Zell
Sam Zell, chairman and co-founder of Equity International Inc. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Billionaire investor Sam Zell pledged $60 million to the University of Michigan to expand entrepreneurship programs for students and alumni.

The pledge to the Samuel Zell & Robert Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies includes a $10 million fund that will invest in student business ventures, the school in Ann Arbor said in a statement Monday. Zell helped create the institute in 1999 with Ann Lurie, the widow of his former business partner.

“Our goal is to accelerate the learning curve and the opportunities for budding entrepreneurs, as well as to build a powerful alumni network,” Zell, 73, chairman of Equity Group Investments, said in the statement. He earned an undergraduate degree from Michigan in 1963 and a law degree in 1966.

Zell is the latest billionaire to donate to higher education. Last month, hedge-fund manager John Paulson gave $400 million to Harvard University’s engineering school. Stephen Schwarzman, the co-founder of Blackstone Group LP, in May announced a $150 million gift to his alma mater, Yale University, for a new student center.

Zell made the gift through his family foundation.

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