This fall, Stanford University will open its first new school in over 70 years. It will be called the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability in honor of billionaire John Doerr. John an his wife Ann Doerr donated an incredible $1.1 billion towards the school’s creation. That is the second largest donation ever made to an academic institution.
As its name suggests, the school will be focused on environmental issues of climate and sustainability. In an interview, Doerr credited his daughters with inspiring him to make the pledge:
“We talked about this at dinner and both Mary and Esther were wildly enthusiastic about it, and angry that we haven’t made more progress against the problem.“
$1.1 billion is the highest amount ever given by one individual to Stanford University, and it’s second only to the $1.8 billion given by Michael Bloomberg to Johns Hopkins University back in 2018.
Doerr has had a long relationship with Stanford University, but he says it wasn’t just that that inspired him to make this donation. “I was impressed by the urgency that they were bringing [to climate and sustainability research] and the scale of their ambition,” he said.
Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne gave a statement of his own on the school, revealing its three-part structure that will include the usual academic departments like natural sciences and engineering, as well as interdisciplinary institutes. But he adds that the third piece of the puzzle is arguably the most important:
“The third and most important part, in some ways, is the accelerator that we added to that structure to enable our faculty to go from idea to impact much more seamlessly, much more effectively, much more efficiently.”
Altogether, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability will offer eight basic areas of education: climate change, Earth and planetary sciences, energy technology, sustainable cities, the natural environment, food and water security, human society and behavior, and human health and the environment, all of which the school says are “crucial for advancing long-term prosperity of the planet.”