Housing Boom: Behind UCSB's Largest Gift Ever

UCSB recently received a $200 million gift from 92-year-old billionaire Charlie Munger. The gift is the school's largest ever. Munger's education philanthropy funds a trail of schools he and those close to him have attended. In this case, Munger's grandson attended the California school. If you're imagining that Munger's many millions will fund, say, innovative health or science research on campus, you'd be wrong. The $200 million backs new housing at the school. Yep, dorms.

Student housing is a pet cause of the billionaire, as we've highlighted before, and he believes that quality housing is a key element in completing a successful education. For example, Munger gave $110 million for graduate student housing at the University of Michigan. This interest has touched UCSB before too and a few years ago he gave $65 million gift to help fund a student residence for physicists.

Related: Hate Your Dorm? Talk to the Billionaire With an Unusual Fixation on Grad Student Housing

While this is certainly an unusual area to focus on, Warren Buffett's right-hand man has gone against the grain with his philanthropy. He doesn't have a private family foundation and notably opposes the idea of signing the Giving Pledge. Munger calls this housing push a "minor revolution." This revolution, though, comes with a pretty significant caveat: UCSB only gets the $200 million if it follows Munger's design. That's right— UCSB can't be housing turncoats, here. 

Munger's design plan includes two interesting stipulations. First, no windows. The dorm rooms at UMichigan's Munger Graduate Residences, don't have windows, either. Second, Munger wants the dorms to be a couple of stories taller. This part of the plan will require the Coastal Commission's approval, however. 

As you can see, not only is Munger pumping quite a bit of money into this cause; he also appears to have quite a few convictions about it, too. And while it's easy to wonder if there other causes more deserving of attention, UCSB expects to enroll 750 additional undergraduate students in the fall. With a housing crunch, the Berkshire Hathaway billionaire has emerged.