Yale partners with Banco Santander

Banco Santander, one of the largest banks in Europe, will fund three globally-focused University initiatives under a new agreement finalized last week.

Executives from the bank met with University administrators in Woodbridge Hall on Friday to sign the deal, which will fund the conservation of “The Education of the Virgin,” a painting Yale has attributed to famed Spanish artist Diego Velázquez, the Yale World Fellows program and study abroad scholarships for students of European and Arabic languages and for those who travel to Spanish-speaking countries. The value of the gift is confidential under the terms of the agreement, said Angelika Hofmann, Yale’s deputy director of corporate and foundation relations.

“The best investment we can make is in higher education,” said Emilio Botín, Banco Santander’s chairman, at the signing. Botín said Banco Santander has signed agreements with over 920 universities in 15 countries. Hofmann said the University had been in talks with Banco Santander about the agreement since October 2010.

SUPPORTING INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE

To add to existing Yale and external funding, Banco Santander will create between 20 and 40 new fellowships to fund Yale students’ experiences in Spanish-speaking countries and study of European languages and Arabic abroad, Botín said.

Jane Edwards, dean of professional and international experience, said she thinks the fellowships are valued at “about $200,000 a year for three years,” though she deferred to the development office for more precise figures.

“We have many programs specifically targeted to Asia. It’s nice to have something that will balance that in the future,” Levin said at the signing, though he noted that more students pursue programs in Europe than in Asia.

Edwards said Yale will not use Banco Santander’s contribution to create new study abroad programs. Instead, she said, the donation will serve as a more stable source of funding for existing programs such as Yale Summer Session Abroad.

Still, Edwards said Yale can leverage Banco Santander’s network of partner institutions to create new opportunities for students.

“A relationship with a bank of this size and benevolence can really help foster reciprocal partnerships,” she said. “We could find opportunities in institutions that have great biological partnerships, for example, and send people to work in their labs, and bring people to work in ours.”

RECRUITING WORLD FELLOWS

Banco Santander will also help fund the World Fellows program, which brings 15 leaders to Yale for one semester each year. Hofmann said Banco Santander’s gift, as with other private support for the World Fellows program, will be paid out over a number of years. She declined to comment on the time frame for the bank’s donation.

Michael Cappello, director of the World Fellows program, said the deal will help the program reach out to and attract “rising stars” in Spain. He added that Yale has never had a world fellow from Spain, despite the consistently strong European applicant pool. The 15 world fellows currently in the program hail from Germany, the United Kingdom, Sudan, Nicaragua and Lebanon, among other nations.

“Equally important [to the bank’s European connections] are the bank’s tremendous ties within Latin America,” he said. “We are looking to develop our network of contacts in the region, so [Banco Santander] has a lot of their areas of strength we can leverage in the future.”

Spaniard Eva Guadamillas ’14, who also attended the signing, said she is interested in expanded opportunities to study and work in Spain under the new agreement.

FUNDING “THE EDUCATION OF THE VIRGIN”

Since Yale curators attributed “The Education of the Virgin,” a painting discovered in the Yale University Art Gallery basement, to Spanish painter Diego Velázquez last June, the damaged painting has been placed on display. Banco Santander will fund the evaluation and restoration of the painting slated to begin Feb. 21. Yale conservators as well as experts from the Prado museum in Spain will work on the project, Botín said, adding that the bank will pay for exhibitions of the painting in Spain once the work is complete.

Jill Westgard, deputy director for museum resources and stewardship at the Yale University Art Gallery, said the gallery had discussed restoration with representatives from the Prado before the gift was made. Banco Santander became involved at a later stage in talks, Westgard said.

While the announcement with Banco Santander states the artwork will be exhibited in Spain, neither venues nor dates can be finalized until the restoration nears completion, Westgard said. Laurence Kanter, a curator of European art, said the restoration could take up to four years.

Botín’s granddaughter, Carla Gomez-Acebo Botín ’14, attended the signing. Banco Santander has forged similar partnerships with Harvard University, Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Emily Wanger contributed reporting.

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