The graduate school of arts and sciences will be named after hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who is 54 years old and the 35th richest person in the world.
After a new $300 million donation brought Griffin’s total support of his alma mater to more than half a billion dollars, the institution announced on Tuesday that it would rename its graduate school of arts and sciences after the Republican mega-donor and billionaire hedge fund executive Kenneth Griffin.
Griffin, 54, is the founder and chief executive of Citadel Securities, which trades securities, and a $59 billion hedge fund called Citadel. According to the Bloomberg billionaires index, he has a net worth of $34.9 billion, making him the 35th richest person in the world.
Harvard Crimson student newspaper,
According to the Harvard Crimson student newspaper, Griffin will be the fourth person to have a school at Harvard named after him in exchange for a donation. Griffin’s status as a major political donor to right-wing politicians and his company’s investments in manufacturers of firearms and ammunition will cause controversy.
According to Chicago NPR affiliate WBEZ, Griffin’s companies held investments in gun and ammunition manufacturers worth more than $139 million as of March 2022. According to a Guardian review of SEC filings, Citadel’s holdings in those five companies had increased to more than $200 million as of December 31, 2022. The investments became a topic of public debate in 2022 when Griffin poured millions of dollars into a Republican candidate for governor of Illinois. These included shares in US gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger. Griffin alleged that JB Pritzker, the current Democratic governor, had failed to reduce crime in Chicago, where Griffin’s businesses were based. After that, he moved the headquarters of his companies to Miami.
A WBEZ examination of guns recuperated by Chicago police from fierce wrongdoing occurrences north of five years observed that almost one of every four were created by organizations in which Stronghold contributes.
Citadel questioned the investments’ significance at the time, telling WBEZ that they comprised “less than.01% of our portfolio” and that a link to gun violence was “quite a stretch.”
In a letter to the editor, Griffin stated that “40% of American households own a gun” and that “the violence destroying our city is not the result of… legal gun purchases, but rather a failure to prosecute criminals, a lack of support for police, and progressive left legislation that prioritizes criminals ahead of law-abiding citizens.” He also stated that “the violence destroying our city is not the result of… legal gun purchases.” I will not participate in amateurish virtue-signaling or the cancel culture of today based on blind ideology.
Additionally, Griffin is a significant political donor and one of the most vocal supporters of Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, whom he has urged to run for president in 2024. According to Politico, Griffin gave nearly $60 million to Republican candidates for federal positions in 2022. He was a fundraiser for Barack Obama once.
Harvard’s reputation is Griffin’s
Another potential threat to Harvard’s reputation is Griffin’s close relationship with DeSantis. By signing the so-called “don’t say gay” bill, which prohibits teachers in Florida from discussing topics related to sexuality and gender identity and prohibits the state’s public high schools from teaching a new advanced placement course in African American studies, the governor of Florida has staked out extreme positions on education and LGBTQ+ rights.
This year, DeSantis presented a legislative proposal to reform Florida’s public colleges and universities. Among the provisions were the prohibition of diversity and inclusion programs, the elimination of critical race theory, which was developed by Black scholars at Harvard Law School, and a significant reduction in the protections provided by academic tenure.
Citadel’s spokesperson responded when asked about Griffin’s relationship with DeSantis and his policies: Ken employs people of all backgrounds with respect.
According to the school, Griffin’s donation to Harvard was unrestricted and will benefit the faculty of arts and sciences, which houses the undergraduate college and PhD programs. Griffin gave the elite private university $150 million in 2014, primarily to pay for financial aid. It was the largest single donation ever made to the institution at the time.
In a statement, Harvard President Larry Bacow said, “Ken’s exceptional generosity and steadfast devotion enable excellence and opportunity at Harvard.” I’m profoundly and actually keen to the certainty he has put in us – and in our central goal – to accomplish something beneficial on the planet.”
A request for clarification was made, but Harvard did not immediately respond.