What Sparked An Anonymous $10 Million Tech Gift On Campus?

DePauw University in Indiana recently received a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor toward new technology innovation at the school. The funds will create a Technology Center and Visualization Laboratory, a "high-tech space where students will develop technology and computing skills." The money will also allow the school to appoint a director to provide leadership for technology programming. Additionally, the gift bolsters the Founders Fund for Computer Science, which "provides computer science students and faculty access to cutting-edge tools, supports project work that hones their skills, and sponsors programs that help computer science majors prepare for high tech careers and graduate study."

Let's talk about this Founders Fund a bit more. It seems clear that this part of the gift reflects the impact that longtime DePauw mathematics and computer science professor Robert Thomas had on the anonymous donor. Perhaps this donor was a student of Thomas? It's unclear. What is clear is that we have yet another example of a big campus gift influenced by a prominent professor. Thomas came to DePauw all the way back in the late 1950s, before a computer science department even existed on campus.

The Founders Fund itself was created in 2013 by a gift from Professor Emeritus Thomas and his wife Doris. This is another phenomenon I've written about before. Higher ed donors don't just include wealthy alumni (and non-alums), but also professors and even university presidents. Thomas has been part of DePauw brass for years, a prominent figure on campus who likely inspired many students over the decades.

Related: University Professor as Donor: A Case Study at Villanova

This anonymous donor's $10 million gift also comes in the midst of the Campaign for DePauw, an effort formally launched in the fall of 2014, which has raised some $255 million towards its $300 million goal.