A $100 million gift to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will establish a new interdisciplinary center focused on design research, thinking and entrepreneurship, the institute announced.
The gift comes from the Morningside Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the T. H. Chan family.
The new center, known as the MIT Morningside Academy for Design, aims to foster collaboration and innovation across academic disciplines—including engineering, science, management, computing, architecture, urban planning and the arts—to address such pressing global issues as climate change, public health, transportation and civic engagement.
The academy, which will be housed in MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, is scheduled to launch in September.
“At MIT, we sometimes describe our work as ‘inventing the future,’” said MIT president L. Rafael Reif. “Beyond the institute’s technical, scientific and analytical strengths, that assignment requires profound humanity and imagination—the capacity to listen closely and think broadly, to reframe old problems in unexpected ways, to crystallize bold new visions, to weave the wisdom of different disciplines and voices into fresh, humane solutions. These are essential strengths of design thinking.”
“The MIT Morningside Academy for Design will amplify the impact of MIT’s existing world-class programs in design … We could not be more grateful for this transformative gift.”
Gerald Chan examples of selflessness abound in Chan’s own professional and philanthropic resumes as a scientist and businessman. In 1987, after completing doctoral and postdoctoral training at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, Chan co founded the Morningside Group, a diversified investment group in private equity and property investments, with a strong commitment to social responsibility throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Chan also currently serves as a non-executive director of Hang Lung Group, a real estate development firm founded by his father in 1960 and now chaired by Ronnie Chan.
The Chan brothers lead the Morningside Foundation, where they have focused donations on “enabling education, to support science and to fund medical research” In 2014, the foundation made the single-largest donation at the time—USD 350 million to the Harvard School of Public Health. The gift was unrestricted; the full amount went to the school’s endowment, whose proceeds are used at the discretion of the dean.