This week, Harvard Business School announced it has received a major gift from alumni Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine, who have pledged a total of $12.5 million to support student fellowships. This is the largest amount ever donated to the business school for scholarship aid and the HBS Fund. Jonathan currently serves as co-managing partner of Bain Capital, one of the world’s largest private investment firms.
The largest component of the gift, $10 million, will go to the Lavine Family Fellowship Challenge Fund, to increase significantly the impact of this gift by engaging and motivating others to make donations in support of the school’s scholarship needs.
Additionally, the gift will endow, at $1 million each, the Lavine Family Fellowship and the Herbert J. Bachelor Fellowship, the latter named in honor of Jeannie’s father (MBA 1968), while $500,000 will go to the HBS Fund to be used for various school priorities.
Approximately fifty percent of Harvard MBA students receive financial aid from the school each year. HBS is committed to a merit-based admissions policy, meaning that applicants’ financial resources are not considered during the admissions process. Once students are admitted, fellowships are granted based solely on their financial need. HBS provided $35 million in financial aid to MBA students in the 2016-17 academic year.
“Fellowships provide the gift of possibility,” said Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria. “For many students, being admitted to Harvard Business School becomes a reality only when they know there is financial support available to make it possible for them to attend. We are so very grateful to Jeannie and Jonathan for this extraordinary gift, which will impact the lives of generations of our students for decades to come.”
“These gifts are the lifeblood of the institution,” said Prof. Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Senior Associate Dean of the MBA Program. “They allow us to focus exclusively on filling our classrooms with the very best students. Our learning community is enriched by diversity in all its forms, and the fellowships we offer make it possible to bring people here from all walks of life around the globe.”
The Lavines have specified that where possible, the fellowships should be made available to students who are the first in their families to go to college, in tribute to Jeannie’s father, Herbert Bachelor, 73, who was the first in his family to go to college, graduating from both Harvard College and Harvard Business School.
The Lavines have focused a significant portion of their philanthropic efforts toward leveling the playing field for individuals and families, with a particular focus on access to quality educational opportunities. The couple’s philanthropic roots at Harvard also run deep.
In 2011, they established the Lavine Family Cornerstone Scholarship Fund, which supports four undergraduates through Harvard’s financial aid program. In 2012, they established the Lavine Family Humanitarian Studies Initiative at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, which supports the training and education of humanitarian relief workers.
“We’re proud to support the work of great academic institutions, because we know first-hand the impact they can have on the world,” said Jonathan Lavine. “There is no greater way to improve someone’s future than giving them access to high quality, post-secondary education. We spent a great deal of time discussing with Dean Nohria our passion for education and how inspired we are by my father-in-law’s journey and appreciative of the opportunity our parents provided us. As a result, we decided that this is the best way to bring those interests together.”
Click here to learn more about the Lavine family’s inspirations and philanthropic efforts.