Ask and ye shall receive!

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kgWe’d heard that there was going to be a super big announcement tomorrow in Low Rotunda. We figured that it had to do with money. We didn’t know it was going to be this much money: according to the Wall Street Journal, media mogul John Kluge (the minority scholarship guy, Forbes’ #25) is forking over between $400 and $600 million, which pretty much takes care of that whole financial aid drive. By Bwog’s rough calculations, that leaves Columbia a little over halfway to its goal of $4 billion for the capital campaign and dwarfs Jerome Greene’s $200 million “largest private gift ever” of last March.

Full WSJ article after the jump.



Kluge Plans to Donate

At Least $400 Million

To Columbia University


April 10, 2007 7:47 p.m.

Columbia University is expected to announce Wednesday a gift of at least

$400 million, possibly as much as $600 million, from media entrepreneur John

W. Kluge, according to two people familiar with the donation. It is among

the largest single gifts to higher education. The amount will depend on the

eventual value of Mr. Kluge’s estate at the time of his death.

Mr. Kluge, 92 years old, has earmarked the gift for undergraduate and

graduate financial aid, according to these people. That is consistent with

his past record of giving to the Manhattan-based university. In 1993, he

pledged $60 million to provide financial aid through the Kluge Scholars

program to minority students at Columbia, and in 2000 he gave $25 million to

subsidize junior-faculty salaries. Over the years, his giving to Columbia

has totaled more than $110 million. A Columbia spokeswoman declined to


It is believed to be the largest single gift in the history of Columbia,

which recently announced a $4 billion fund-raising campaign emphasizing

financial aid and endowed faculty across its campuses. A year ago, the

university received a gift of over $200 million from Dawn Greene and the

Jerome L. Greene Foundation to create the Jerome L. Greene Science Center

for Mind, Brain and Behavior.

A German immigrant, Mr. Kluge attended Columbia on an academic scholarship,

graduating in 1937. One person who knows him says he has always felt

grateful to Columbia for that aid, and believes that helping students today

is an extension of the support received by earlier generations of European


Mr. Kluge began building his entertainment empire in 1947 with the

acquisition of a radio station in Silver Spring, Md. It later grew to

include television stations, outdoor advertising, cellular telephone

properties and even the Ice Capades and Harlem Globetrotters.

Mr. Kluge was one of the first media entrepreneurs to demonstrate that a

group of independent TV stations could make millions of dollars, according

to the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. His Metromedia Inc.

pioneered independent-station operations through the 1960s and 1970s. In

1986, Mr. Kluge agreed to sell seven Metromedia TV stations for nearly $2

billion to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Write to Sally Beatty at sally.beatty@wsj.com

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  1. Disappointed  

    It will go to "undergraduate and graduate financial aid", so it likely won't fill the goal of $440 million for undergraduate aid, while everyone knows that Henry Pinkham will try to siphon off a huge chunk into the black hole that is GSAS.

    Also, I hope "undergraduate financial aid" excludes GS.

  2. im happy  

    whether it goes to undergrads or grads, i'm happy about this announcement. if we can attract better grad students and retain happier TAs that's not a bad thing.

    i hope kluge gets a building named after him, if there isn't one already.

  3. holy crap  

    Wow. That's a lot of dough. That's insanely generous of him. I didn't realize so many media big wigs went to the College.

    Didn't Lerner also have humble beginnings? Yeah Kluge deserves a building named after him.

    • Seas  

      yeah it is a lot of money. however, no where in the article does it say that he went to the College. though it's reasonable to assume he did go to the College, you shouldn't dwarf the value of a seas education. plenty of insanely rich folk coming out of seas as well.

  4. hmmm  

    northwest science building = Kluge Science Center?

  5. the dorm  

    formerly known as nussbaum still doesn't have a real name. i wouldn't mind it being named "kluge" :)

  6. fostor  

    anyone apply to fostor

  7. CU '07  

    Thank you, John Kluge.
    I don't know you, but you're a damn fine man.

    • CC'08er  

      I'm in the same boat as you. I'm usually cynical about this school but I wouldn't be here had it not been for the generous grants, made possible by alumni like Kluge. I made a personal vow that if I ever have the capacity to donate anything, I'm definitely giving to the College/Columbia.

      Ok that's enough sentimentality for tonight.

  8. CC '07  

    As a student who attends Columbia only because the University covers 95% of all costs (due to financial need), I really am touched by Kluge's donation. It shows that investments in financial aid can have positive impacts on future donations. As the WSJ article said, Kluge felt indebted to Columbia for the the opportunity and scholarship it provided.
    Columbia takes plenty of flak for the holes in its financial aid packages. But I, for one, have been treated wonderfully, just like Kluge. Hopefully, like Kluge, I'll be able to make a lot of money and donate as much as I can back to the U.

    • CC '09  

      Me too, man. Me too.

      As a student in the Kluge program directly benefiting from Mr. Kluge's generosity, I even begin can't say how grateful I am. I'd probably be some regular commuter kid in my hometown. God bless you, John Kluge.

  9. awesome  

    this is great

  10. next step  

    If lots of people give to the Senior Fund, more rich people like Kluge might offer to give donations...

  11. We should  

    Rename the school..


  12. Anonymous  

    This thing about naming something after him should be pushed. He deserves at least that in return. I'd love to see us (students) make a move.

    As a Kugle scholar, I can't thank him enough. God Bless you, John Kluge.

  13. CC '09  

    i'm also couldn't be here without A LOT of financial aid, and i'm grateful to kluge for his generosity. would that i could give just as much to columbia.

  14. charlow?  

    good thing they busted charlow before he could screw people out of this money, too.

  15. well  

    usually bwog links to spec, so the snub this time probably motivated that commenter--good comeback though!

  16. inspiration  

    kluge is obviously amazing and his commitment to columbia is definitely inspiring... so please donate to the senior fund! (for those seniors who haven't yet, there's an alum who offered to donate $50,000 directly to financial aid if we get 84% of our class to donate even just a dollar) you can give online at: http://www.college.columbia.edu/alumni/giving/

    $1 or even $50,000 might not be 400 or 600 million, but it still gives students who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford Columbia the chance to come here

  17. wow  

    people are so happy that they've actually stopped their grammar whore tendencies. yayy recieve

  18. mistyped  

    *i also couldn't be here...


  19. oh man  

    this post is chockfull of priceless comments!

  20. well,  

    his degree was in economics. you do the math.

  21. person  


    now help me out with my bills, damnit

  22. hmm  

    broadway isn't really named, it's just called broadway. open to naming after a donor.
    600 w 113 a.k.a. nussbaum could be named after a donor.
    the new science building could be named after a donor.
    they could even rename say 47 claremont, river, east campus, etc. that aren't new but aren't named after donors yet.
    or we could go ahead and designate a building in manhattanville to be named after kluge.

  23. Alum

    I've heard that Kluge doesn't want buildings or other facilities named after him, which is why his name isn't on anything already. He is perfectly happy to have the scholarships that he finances bear his name; he may even wish his name were on fewer things than it already is. I wouldn't be surprised if he has specifically instructed Columbia not to name any buildings after him as a condition of the gift.

    Columbia shouldn't name the science building or anything else substantial for Mr. Kluge unless that was part of the deal. Someone else might donate $50 million to name the science building, but Columbia won't get that gift if they put Mr. Kluge's name on it instead.

    And it really makes no sense to put his name on the Journalism school unless the J-school is getting a large share of the gift. After all, why should the school give up the opportunity to get a large naming gift from someone else by naming itself after a man who helped only the arts and sciences?

    If Columbia does decide to name something extra after Mr. Kluge, it should be something that otherwise wouldn't attract a large gift on its own.

    What Mr. Kluge is doing is wonderful and I am grateful to him beyond words for his support of our school. But I'm sure the last thing he wants his gift to do is to deprive Columbia of other gifts down the road.

  24. scholars program  

    one of the worst programs at CU. if only he knew where his money was going.

  25. has  

    kluge ever been to one of those ridiculous journey seminars? dont think so.

    • ouch  

      burn! yeah, it's great that the kluge program helps so many people come here, but scholars events...ugh.

      • scholars program

        a friend of mine got into cc as a jj scholar. apparently they're assigned a special dan - lavinia lorch. this would be the same dean who's track record as the head of the fellowships office got LAPPED by michael pippenger in one year.

        *sigh*- columbia, you don't just need more advisors, you need more COMEPTENT advisors...

  26. hello

    what's the problem with giving money back to gs?

  27. thankyou!

    It would be great if someone found out how to email/contact Mr. Kluge. It's one thing to have your own celebration thing in Low, but he sounds like the type of guy who would love to hear some of these comments written. Just a thought. Bwog do some diggin? =)

  28. CCstudent  

    To GS:

    Face it, you're a minor sort of cash cow for the university.

    GS = easy admissions and degrees for people with money.

    So why would the university want to subsidize GS students? Answer: they wouldn't want to.

    And they shouldn't.

  29. to #60

    where are your figures to back that up? most of the people i know earning degrees through gs are very far in debt, while paying off all of the other expenses that come along with living in new york that cc/seas kids take for granted: private rent, utility bills, etc.

    further, most gs students come with virtually flawless academic records at the college level. i wouldn't call the admissions easy as much as it is self-selecting. the insanely high yield basically proves this.

    i'm willing to bet families sending their children to cc/seas are far wealthier overall than those in gs, especially with most supporting themselves. they should be just as deserving of the undergraduate financial aid pot.

    but let's not turn this into yet another divisional shitstorm. ok?

  30. just an opinion  

    Olin College was started with a $460M endowment, and it's quite a successful school already. That kind of money contributing to a $4B endowment seems like it can't make too much of a change. I'm not criticizing Kluge, because I'd rather have the money go to education than some presidential campaign or something, however I wonder if there are better ways to spend that money. It seems Columbia is not exactly short on cash.

    • we're broke!  

      harvards endowment is 26 billion. so 4 billion is puny, relatively. plus, we're in new york. and its expensive to come here. that shouldnt be a factor people have to weigh in wanting to get a good education.

  31. what  

    makes you sure that Kluge won't read the bwog postings?

  32. Sprinkles  


    He should have been an obvious choice...he was in the CC class of '37, so the 70th anniversary would be a great milestone. I know he's roughly 90, but hey, surely we could have persuaded him to say a few words?

  33. Olin College  

    Olin is also a tiny school with I think around a 100 students per class year. And is also in Needhamm Mass, which is a purely suburban area, seriously it is a college surrounded by free standing housing, and Babson on one side.

  34. yay!

    maybe i'll get some better fin aid next year!

  35. hooray!  

    Kluge, you're awesome.

    (Does anybody else wonder if Warren Buffet plans on one-upping Kluge?)

    • Alum

      Buffet gave something like $43 billion -- more than 100 times the size of Kluge's gift -- to the Gates Foundation last year. He's given away more money than any other person and doesn't need to one-up anybody.

      Buffet doesn't seem particularly interested in donating to Columbia, unfortunately, but he helps plenty of other good causes. If he does decide to make a big donation, it will most likely go to the business school.

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