SOUTH BEND – The co-founder of a private equity firm has donated $75 million to the University of Notre Dame to be used to bolster its efforts to become one of the country’s top research schools.
The donation from alumnus John W. “Jay” Jordan, also a board of trustees member, is the largest in the school’s history, Notre Dame said Friday.
The gift surpassed a $50 million bequest that Joan B. Kroc, the billionaire widow of McDonald’s Corp. founder Ray Kroc, left the university in her will in 2003 for the peace studies institute she helped to create.
Jordan’s donation will be used for science and technology with a view to developing innovative intellectual property with commercial potential, the school said.
“This will be a tremendous boost to make us a pre-eminent research university in the area of technology and have an impact on society,” university president the Rev. John Jenkins told the Associated Press.
Jenkins said Provost Thomas Burish will meet with the university’s deans to determine how to best use the money, but that it will be pointed toward recruiting top faculty and students, providing laboratory supplies and equipment, supporting seed grants and creating prototypes.
Jordan’s latest gift brings the total the 1969 graduate has donated to the university to $150 million.
The co-founder of The Jordan Company, which is based in New York and has offices in Chicago and Shanghai, donated $40 million to the school in 2005 that has not yet been designated for use and remains in the university’s endowment fund. He also gave $30 million to help build the Jordan Hall of Science, which cost $70 million to build, and donated to funding for the Jordan Auditorium in the Mendoza College of Business and to a scholars program.
Notre Dame announced in 2008 that it would spend an additional $40 million in each of the next two years on research to try to compete with the country’s best universities. It noted in a 2003 strategic plan that while many of its doctoral programs had shown steady progress in national rankings, few were considered among the “very best in the nation.”
“Notre Dame has always been known and will continue to emphasize undergraduate education. It’s at the heart of what we do,” Jenkins said. “But research is an area we’ve grown in and want to grow in.”
Jordan said in a statement released by the university that it is important for the country to maintain leadership in state-of-the-art technology.
“It is not only critical for socio-economic reasons, but national security as well. I have always thought that you cannot invest too much in technology. Hopefully this gift to Notre Dame will elevate our leadership role in these areas and will have a global impact,” he said.
The gift was announced Friday during the board of trustees’ spring meeting. Jordan has served on the board since 1993.