Zanvyl Krieger's gift

December 22, 1992

Zanvyl Krieger is known to many Baltimoreans for his role as an investor in bringing the football Colts and baseball Orioles to town. He is known to others for downtown property dealings, including ownership at one time of the Lord Baltimore Hotel. But Zanvyl Krieger will be known to posterity for gifts to his alma mater (Class of 1928), the Johns Hopkins University, that will insure its pre-eminence in many fields for many decades to come.

There was $7.5 million to establish the Krieger Mind/Brain Institute and $5 million for the Kennedy Krieger Institute for handicapped children. And now comes $50 million in matching gifts over the next five years to shore up the endowment of the School of Arts and Sciences. It is the hardest kind of gift to attract from a donor -- not for a building or a new activity -- and the most needed.

For all Johns Hopkins' eminence, its endowment of $639 million is small for what it supports and the fame of the place. The portion for arts and sciences, $130 million, is below that of several undergraduate colleges. By offering to match the gifts of others to the arts and sciences endowment, up to $10 million a year for five years or $50 million all told, Mr. Krieger provides the centerpiece of what will be a major campaign that is likely to produce more than $100 million endowment gain in five years. Such gifts (of which there are few anywhere) are powerful magnets.

For this, ten distinguished professorships will be named in honor of Mr. Krieger and the late university President Milton S. Eisenhower. But this gift won't build buildings that cost money to keep up, as so many gifts do, or start new programs. Rather, it will go to the heart of Johns Hopkins University and shore up the state's third largest (and Baltimore's biggest) private employer, which provides roughly $1 of every $40 income in the state.

Building the endowment of the School of Arts and Sciences is a way to insure payment of faculty salaries and student aid to continue to attract the finest minds to the Homewood campus. This complements the recent dormitory expansion in Charles Village that has improved student life for a school that must compete with the likes of Princeton and Swarthmore, with all their resources, for the talent it seeks.

With this gift, the name of Zanvyl Krieger joins that of such immortals as Johns Hopkins and George Peabody and Henry Walters -- and such more recent philanthropists as Joseph Meyerhoff and Henry J. Knott -- as benefactors who have lifted Baltimore up through generosity to its vital institutions. The Johns Hopkins University, as a result, is much better equipped to face the challenges of 21st Century.

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