November 13, 2019; Los Angeles Times, MIT News, and the Plain Dealer

Four major science research institutions found themselves in receipt of record-breaking gifts yesterday from the proceeds of the recent sale of the North Carolina-based Lord Corporation. The four institutions are MIT, Duke University, the Cleveland Clinic, and USC. Each will receive approximately $260 million.

USC’s share is slated for teaching and research in academic disciplines, including artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, and to support various faculty research that advances the public good.

“This tremendous distribution of funds provides us with one of the greatest opportunities in our history to think boldly and to invest in cutting-edge and strategic initiatives that accelerate our research and teaching to address major societal issues for decades to come,” USC President Carol L. Folt said in a statement. (Folt, readers will recall, was chancellor of UNC at Chapel Hill until early this year.)

Hugh Lord founded Lord Corporation in 1924, but these four foundations were created by his son Thomas. Each was gifted with company shares, which were recently liquidated in the company’s sale to Parker-Hannifin.

The gifts appear to be relatively flexible, which increases their value significantly and encourages cross-disciplinary work.

“Thomas Lord and his successors at Lord Corporation have pioneered a distinctive strategy for giving back to society,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “Their generosity to all four institutions is remarkable. And the value of the distribution is magnified because it comes with great flexibility, giving institutions the nimbleness to seize opportunities and address needs that can be hard to cover through traditional philanthropy. We are tremendously grateful.”

“Quite simply, this is a provost’s dream,” said USC Provost Charles F. Zukoski.—Ruth McCambridge