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Universities Receive Billion-Dollar Donation to Advance Innovation

A large donation is supporting innovation in education and research at four institutions across the country. The gift comes from the LORD Corp., a privately held manufacturing company founded in 1924 that produced advanced adhesives and coatings, as well as vibration and motion control technologies.

The University of Southern California, for one, will use its $260 million share to build up educational programs in engineering and business, with an emphasis on areas of innovation. Comparable donations were made to two other institutions, MIT and Duke University, and an academic medical center.

LORD recently sold to Parker Hannifin, a global maker of motion and control technologies, for $3.675 billion. Company head Thomas Lord, who ran the family-owned company until his death in 1989, set up a holding company, Jura Corp., which owned almost all of the stock for the company. In turn, four separate foundations dedicated to advancing education and research owned a significant part of Jura: the Lord Foundation of California, which supports USC; the Lord Foundation of Massachusetts, which supports MIT; the Lord Foundation of North Carolina, which supports Duke; and the Lord Foundation of Ohio, which supports Cleveland Clinic. The sale resulted in the distribution of more than $1 billion to those foundations.

"When developing his estate plan, Tom Lord identified research institutions that shared his vision of continuous learning and innovation," explained Frederick McCorkle, president of Jura, in a statement. "We are thrilled his legacy of developing new products to solve the world's problems will continue."

The funding is unrestricted. The beneficiaries will be able to dedicate the money to any programs or projects they choose. According to reporting by the Washington Post, the billion-dollar donation is "among the largest highest single allocations of its kind."

USC Provost Charles Zukoski commented, "Quite simply, this is a Provost's dream. The flexibility and scale of this gift allows us to build much more rapidly than normally possible upon cross-university strengths in areas such as artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, and to support our faculty as they leapfrog into emerging areas of research and teaching that advance the public good."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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