William H. Gross, manager of the world's largest bond mutual fund, and his wife Sue are giving more than $23 million to Duke University to provide financial aid for needy and excellent students and other programs, Duke President Richard H. Brodhead announced Wednesday.
Bill Gross is a 1966 graduate of Duke's Trinity College and an A.B. Duke Scholarship recipient during his undergraduate years. He is the chief investment officer and a founder of the Newport Beach, Calif.-based PIMCO, one of the world's largest bond management firms. The internationally known investor is responsible for nearly $600 billion worldwide.
"Few investors can match Bill Gross's foresight and remarkable record of success," Brodhead said. "Now he and Sue are making an investment in the lives of countless students, whose Duke education will benefit them and all those it will enable them to serve. Year after year, students will benefit from the Grosses' philanthropy. Duke will profit as well, since this gift will help us remain open to young people of intellect, talent, character and drive regardless of their socioeconomic status. Continuing to attract excellent students and enlarging the endowment to support our 'need-blind' admissions policy are among my highest priorities, and I am profoundly grateful that the Grosses have so generously supported these important goals."
Brodhead, who became Duke's ninth president in July 2004, said that $15 million of the Grosses' gift will endow undergraduate scholarships and another $5 million will endow scholarships for medical students. The $20 million the Grosses are providing for financial aid equals a 1998 gift from Duke alumna Melinda French Gates and her husband Bill as the largest from individuals for scholarships in the university's history.
The $3.5 million balance of the gift will be used to support faculty members in Duke's Fuqua School of Business and other priorities.
"Sue and I are very pleased to make this gift as an expression of our respect and deep affection for Duke," Bill Gross said. "It is important to us that the university is always available to outstanding students, no matter what their financial circumstances, and that Duke continues to excel in its many activities including professional education, such as business, as well as in extra-curricular pursuits."
Duke is among a small group of colleges and universities that evaluate undergraduate applicants based on their educational and related achievements and intellectual potential as well as their ability to contribute to the life of the university, without regard to their or their family's financial status. Duke commits to provide a necessary financial aid package to support admitted students who need help to attend the university. It invests more than $50 million annually to support its financial aid programs. About 40 percent of Duke's undergraduate students receive financial aid, with the average annual grant exceeding $20,000.
The gift will establish three new endowments at the university:
-- The William and Sue Gross Honorary Undergraduate Scholarships will be awarded to students "with great intellectual capacity and significant financial need." Recipients will come from families with incomes below the median of students receiving financial aid at Duke the preceding year. The first awards will be made in the fall of 2005. When fully endowed, the Gross Scholarships will provide about 20 scholarships annually.
-- The William and Sue Gross Honorary Scholarships in the School of Medicine will provide financial aid for excellent and needy students pursuing either an M.D. degree or joint M.D.-Ph.D. degrees in Duke's School of Medicine. Those scholarships will go to students whose families have an adjusted gross income in the lowest quartile for families applying for need-based support at the medical school. Awards may range from full to partial tuition.
Dean of the School of Medicine R. Sanders Williams said the Gross gift "could not come at a better time. The cost of medical education continues to rise, and it's vitally important that we can provide robust scholarship support to ensure we can attract the best students to medicine, regardless of their financial circumstances."
-- The William and Sue Gross Distinguished Research Scholars in Duke's Fuqua School of Business will help attract, retain and develop the most accomplished business school faculty. Awards will primarily support rising full professors for terms of up to four years. Each Gross Distinguished Research Scholar will become a member of the Fuqua Society of Fellows, a body of scholars that convenes regularly to discuss research and issues in business management.
Gross was born in Middletown, Ohio, and was raised there and in California. Following his graduation from Duke, he served in the United States Navy before pursuing his MBA degree at UCLA. While a patient in Duke Hospital following an automobile accident, Gross read a book on beating the odds in gambling and subsequently earned in Las Vegas the money he used to attend business school. His daughter, Jennifer, is a 1997 Duke alumna.