Bloomberg and Johns Hopkins: A Record Breaking, Billion-Dollar Love Affair

In January of 2013, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg brought his total giving to Johns Hopkins to a record-breaking $1 billion with a $350 million gift to the university. $250 million of this most recent grant will fund new faculty positions in public health: "water resource sustainability, individualized health care delivery, global health, the science of learning and urban revitalization." The new programs place a special emphasis on interdisciplinary problem solving. Undergraduate students will receive the remaining $100 million through 2,600 need-based financial aid scholarships to be awarded over the next decade.

Legend has it that Bloomberg gave his first $5 to Hopkins after he received his Bachelor's in engineering from the Baltimore school in 1965. He would later attend Harvard for an MBA. Since then, his giving has become a destructive force to the curve in philanthropy. 

The gods down on Wall Street blessed Bloomberg with $20 million in 1981 in severance pay when Salomon Brothers, the company for whom he worked, was sold. He took that money and set up a financial news outlet that had some novel ideas using software to provide businesses with precise, up-to-the-minute data on the buying and selling of bonds. Bloomberg L.P. now has revenue of some $8 billion a year. 

As analysis in the Baltimore Sun indicates, Bloomberg's

gifts have totaled $1.118 billion, something that university officials say makes him the only person to have ever given as much to a single U.S. institution of higher education...the $350 million gift is among the largest single donations ever made to a university worldwide, according to a list of major philanthropic gifts maintained by the Chronicle of Higher Education. It ties as 10th-largest among all gifts, and ties as fifth when not counting gifts made by foundations. Two other Bloomberg gifts to Hopkins already appear on the list, which includes gifts of $50 million or more.

The Sun also attributes two supposedly anonymous gifts of $100 million each to Hopkins as Bloomberg’s handiwork, as well. $8 million bucks built a physics building with "Bloomberg" on it and another $1 million found a professorship in their humanities department named after his mom.

Where will Bloomberg's attention turn to in the future? (See Bloomberg Philantrhopies: New York City Grants). One lead is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gherig's disease. Along with Carlyle Group co-founder David M. Rubenstein, Bloomberg announced a $25 million investment to open Target ALS, this month. Data from this new project will go primarily "to seed an array of drug-development programs at pharmaceutical and biotech companies" to fight the disease.