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Harvard To Get $350 Million Gift From Hong Kong Group

Harvard is set to receive $350 million — its largest-ever single donation — from a foundation run by a wealthy Hong Kong family led by alumnus and longtime benefactor Gerald L. Chan.

The Harvard Crimson reports: "In recognition of the gift, the University will rename the school the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in honor of Chan's late father. This is the first time in its history that Harvard has renamed one of its schools in recognition of philanthropy. Harvard's Kennedy School of Government was named in memorial of former United States President John F. Kennedy '40 in 1966."

The Crimson adds that Gerald Chan, who "made his fortune in private equity and venture capital, earned two degrees at the School of Public Health in the 1970s and has remained involved in the school."

The New York Times says the foundation is run by Gerald and his brother, Ronnie, "whose businesses include the Hang Lung Group, a major developer of real estate in Hong Kong and elsewhere in China, and the Morningside Group, a private equity and venture capital firm."

Chan, who lives in Newton, Mass., "has also quietly bought more than $100 million in real estate in Harvard Square in recent years," the Crimson notes.

The gift will be officially announced this afternoon at an event at the School of Public Health in the Longwood Medical Area, according to the student newspaper , but the university's long-standing practice is not to disclose the timing or form of the gift, the Times says.

The Times adds:

"Harvard officials said the gift would be used to address four broad areas: pandemics, which they define to include threats like obesity and cancer; harmful environments, ranging from pollution to violence; poverty and humanitarian crises; and failing health systems. [Harvard President Drew Gilpin] Faust cited the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as an example of the need for such resources, hitting on three of those four areas — a rapidly spreading disease, abetted by poverty, that existing health system cannot handle.

" 'We're all realizing how important public health is as we become more global and diseases are shared across boundaries,' she said."

According to a list put out by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Chan's gift ranks seventh among donations to U.S. universities. That list is topped by a $600 million pledge by Intel Corp. co-founder , to the California Institute of Technology in 2001.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.