Inside the Transformational Gift

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by Daniel Fusch (Academic Impressions)

Recently, the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego, announced a $100 million transformational gift from local philanthropist Ernest Rady. It is the largest single commitment ever made to a business school the size of the Rady School, and the gift is intended to empower the Rady School to engage in competitive recruitment of top faculty on a par with Harvard, Stanford, and other major US business schools.

At AI, we had the opportunity to speak with both the Rady School's dean, Robert Sullivan, and the donor, to get a unique dual perspective into the transformational gift. What we learned matches what we have seen with many other transformational gifts. These gifts are a product of:

  • A shared vision between school and community leaders
  • A deep, trusting, and longstanding relationship between the donor and the school's academic leadership
  • A clear business case to the donor for how the gift will transform both school and community

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