John Doerr donated $1.1 billion to Stanford to build a new climate school.
Mr. Doerr’s gift is the highest ever given to a university for building a new school. It will be named the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.
The gift makes the Doerrs the lead donors of climate change research and scholarship. It also places Stanford at the center of public and private efforts to end fossil fuel reliance.
The Stanford New Climate School
The billionaire said the study of climate change and sustainability would be the “new computer science”.
Stanford’s new climate school will hold traditional academic departments on climate and sustainability. Related topics would be planetary science, energy technology, and food and water security.
It will also have several interdisciplinary institutes and a center on creating climate policy and technology solutions.
As per Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne,
“The new school will focus on climate policy issues… And on asking what would it take to move the world toward more sustainable practices and better behaviors.”
Other big universities are also developing interdisciplinary schools focused on climate change. The Columbia climate school is an example. But the Doerr School of Sustainability will be among the biggest and best-funded.
It will launch with 90 faculty members on board already and will add 60 more over the next 10 years. It’s Stanford’s first climate school and new institute in 70 years.
Alongside Doerrs’ gift is another $590 million Stanford had raised to fund the construction of two new buildings.
The inspiration behind the Doerrs’ philanthropic act
The first inspiration for Mr. Doerr’s plight to address climate change was in 2006. It was after his family watched Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth”.
He said that after dinner, his daughter told him that it was his generation who created the climate crisis and that they better fix it. It all started there and Mr. Doerr, with his wife, give gifts to help fight climate change.
Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm owned by Mr. Doerr, made several investments in clean energy companies. Speaking of his family’s philanthropic acts, Mr. Doerr said,
“Climate and sustainability are the most important of our causes… We hope that the gift would inspire other wealthy individuals to spend their fortunes combating climate change.”
Mr. Doerr is part of a growing number of ultra-rich men donating huge sums of their fortune to tackle global warming.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said he was committing $10 billion of his own money to a new climate initiative. It’s called the Bezos Earth Fund.
Also, Mr. Bloomberg said he would spend $500 million to help close coal-fired power plants. Whereas Bill Gates had put billions to tackle climate-related issues through various means. These include the Breakthrough Energy and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Stanford’s new climate school open for more gifts
The new climate school’s inaugural dean is Arun Majumdar. He’s the advisor for the Obama and Biden administrations on energy issues.
He said that the school will offer context and analysis around climate change issues. But it will not go into the political arena. He added that,
“We will work with and accept donations from fossil fuel companies… Those that want to diversify and be part of the solutions, and they want to engage with us, we are open to that.”