$60M gift to fund sciences

A recent $60 million donation by Edward Bass ’68 will likely fund the renovation and construction of facilities for the sciences, University President Richard Levin said Sunday.

The gift — the second largest so far in the Yale Tomorrow capital campaign — brings Bass’s individual contributions to the University to $100 million over his lifetime. The gift is one of five contributions of $50 million or more solicited during the two-year “quiet phase” of the campaign, Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said. The campaign, which was formally launched last month, has already raised $1.3 billion, 43 percent of its $3 billion goal.

While Bass, who co-chairs Yale Tomorrow, announced his gift to the campaign’s executive committee last fall, the University had yet to announce the gift publicly. Only two of the five gifts — an anonymous $100 million contribution to the Yale School of Music, announced last year, and a $50 million gift from Maurice Greenberg for the Greenberg Yale-China initiative, announced last month — had previously been publicly acknowledged. Of the two remaining gifts, one is devoted to international purposes and the other, which will be received in a few years, is unrestricted, Levin said.

Levin said donors have various reasons for wanting the University to delay announcing gifts or for keeping gifts anonymous.

“I don’t really question people who want to give 50 or 100 million dollars,” he said.

The Basses, a prominent Texas family that originally made money in the oil business, have been among the largest contributors to Yale in its recent history. Two of Bass’s brothers have also given large sums to the campaign. Robert Bass ’71 and his wife Anne donated $13 million for the renovation of Cross Campus Library, and Sid Bass ’65 contributed $20 million to finance the renovation of the Art and Architecture Building on York Street.

The fourth Bass brother, Lee Bass ’79, donated $20 million in 1991 for the study of the humanities, which the University returned several years later amid much controversy about the terms of the donation.

Levin said that although time has healed some of the wounds between Lee Bass and the University, he does not expect a contribution from Lee in the future.

“We have a very cordial relationship, but I don’t anticipate another gift of that magnitude,” Levin said.

Robert Bass, whose contribution will match gifts from other alumni to fund the CCL renovation, said he and his brothers each have their own motivations for contributing to Yale.

“We are all individuals,” he said. “I wouldn’t attempt to try to discern their particular motives.”

Edward Bass and Sid Bass were unavailable for comment.

Ramamurti Shankar, the chair of the physics department, said that while he was unaware of the gift, he is excited about its implications for the sciences at Yale.

“I think this is great,” Shankar said. “I hope some of the ‘science’ means physics.”

Improving Yale’s science facilities and programs could have a big effect on the University’s standing in international rankings, Reichenbach said.

“When you look today at how schools are ranked worldwide … you see it is all science-related,” she said.

Len Baker ’64, a Yale Corporation fellow and Yale Tomorrow co-chair, said the Basses have been instrumental in shoring up the campaign during its quiet phase and that through their donations, others have been inspired to contribute.

“The Bass family has been incredibly generous to Yale over the years,” Baker said. “They are great philanthropists in general.”

William Wright ’82, a member of the Yale Tomorrow executive committee, said Robert Bass’s offer to match contributions for the CCL renovation has encouraged younger alumni, including himself, to contribute.

Edward Bass’s contributions have earned him membership into Yale’s elite club of $100 million donors. Its members include John William Sterling 1864, Edward Harkness 1897, Paul Mellon ’29 and the Beinecke family.

“We expect that there will be several donors in this campaign that will enter into this company,” Levin said.

Edward, Robert and Sid Bass all made $20 million contributions during Yale’s last capital campaign in the early-to-mid 1990s, which raised $1.5 billion.

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