WASHINGTON (AP) — Investor and philanthropist David Rubenstein is giving $15 million to his alma mater, Duke University, following a series of high-profile gifts to projects including repairing the Washington Monument.
The billionaire businessman said Friday the money will fund courses, mentoring and an incubator for students and faculty to develop new startup ventures through Duke’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative.
Rubenstein, of Bethesda, is co-founder of the Washington-based private equity firm The Carlyle Group, which recently went public on the Nasdaq exchange.
Rubenstein said Duke, where he graduated in 1970, is positioned to inspire social and business entrepreneurs across disciplines to create new ventures and jobs.
“Students today increasingly want to be entrepreneurs, social or business,” he told The Associated Press. “When I was at Duke in college many years ago, the word entrepreneur wasn’t talked about that much.”
His gift is designed to be a “kick start” to spur other Duke alumni to contribute to the effort to foster new innovations. Rubenstein serves on the university’s board of trustees, and his son also attends Duke.
The Baltimore native and son of a postal worker said he was grateful to Duke for giving him a scholarship that allowed him to attend the private college. Before co-founding the Carlyle Group, Rubenstein worked as a lawyer in the Senate and private practice and served as a domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter.
Rubenstein’s gift makes Duke the largest single beneficiary of his philanthropy, following a gift of $13.6 million to Duke’s libraries last year and earlier gifts to its public policy school. In total, he will give the school nearly $40 million.
The gift also follows major gifts to Washington’s cultural scene. Over the past five years, Rubenstein has given or spent more than $83 million to support the capital’s museums and arts institutions with cash gifts or to purchase historic documents for public display. Most recently he gave $7.5 million to repair the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)