A $15 million gift from two engineering graduates of Rice University in Houston, Texas, will fund the new Rice Center for Engineering leadership, which aims to transform the way engineers are educated. The center’s mission is to broaden Rice engineering education by incorporating current and emerging crises facing society and developing personal leadership skills needed to solve global problems.
The gift from John and Ann Doerr, both of whom earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Rice, brings their commitment to the school’s Centennial Campaign to $22.5 million. The gift was made through the Benificus Foundation, a private charitable organization set up by the Doerrs.
John Doerr, who also holds an M.B.A. from Harvard University, started his career at Intel Corp. as an engineer, marketer, and sales executive. At venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, he was an early champion of Google and Amazon, among many other companies. His ability to recognize and help entrepreneurs commercialize innovation into winning products and services has granted him first place on Forbes Magazine’s Midas list of the world’s top 100 tech dealmakers. Ann Doerr is an environmental activist and a trustee of the New York-Based Environmental Defense Fund.
“We are grateful for this extraordinary gift, which is generous not only in amount but in vision,” said Rice president David Leebron. “There is no limit to what talented and imaginative engineers will be able to achieve, and the education this gift makes possible will enable Rice to produce some of the great engineers who will help solve the big challenges facing our world.”