Citadel’s Griffin Says He May Give Billions to Higher Education

  • He announced $125 million gift to University of Chicago
  • Chicago’s economics department will be renamed for Griffin
Griffin discusses his $125 million donation to the University of Chicago.

Hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin, who is giving $125 million to the University of Chicago, said he’s committed to donating many times more to higher education to keep the U.S. competitive in science and economics.

“I expect over the remainder of my life to give frankly well over a billion or several billion dollars to higher education,” Griffin said Wednesday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “I think this is so important to our society that every single young man and young woman in our country has access to our best schools and our best schools have the ability to fund the research that will keep America competitive in the global landscape.”

The gift to the University of Chicago, where he has been a trustee since 2014, will provide financial aid to students in its influential economics department and expand faculty resources and research, the school said Wednesday in a statement. It’s the second-largest donation in the school’s history.

The University of Chicago counts 29 current or former faculty and alumni who have won the Nobel prize in economics, including Richard H. Thaler last month. The department will be renamed for Griffin, 49, founder and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Citadel, which has $27 billion in assets.

‘Winning’ Innovation

“I have an economics degree from Harvard,” Griffin said in a separate interview. “If you think about the amount of critical thinking that has come into the field of economics, two universities have dominated the landscape in my life, Chicago and Harvard. Innovation has been won by Chicago.”

The donation is the latest in a flurry of mega-gifts to universities, aided in part by the record-high stock market. The University of Chicago has received more than $350 million this year in large gifts and pledges, including $75 million for its business school and the Griffin gift. The University of Notre Dame received a $100 million unrestricted pledge. The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign’s business school will receive $150 million.

In 2014, he gave $150 million to his alma mater, Harvard University. That donation went to Harvard College, the university’s undergraduate school that was established in 1636, to expand the financial-aid program. His new donation to the University of Chicago brings his total giving to the school to nearly $150 million.

Success Story

Griffin’s gift through his charitable fund will go into its endowment. The fund reached a record $7.8 billion as of June, aided by gifts and investment returns. The fund had an investment gain of 11.4 percent for the year ended in June, lower than the average school fund. The fund gained an annualized 6.6 percent and 5.4 percent, for the past five and 10 years, respectively.

Griffin said some of his partners at Citadel have economics degrees or MBAs from the university.

“The success story at Citadel has been written by a number of people who have backgrounds from the University of Chicago,” he said.

— With assistance by Kate Smith

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