The record-setting $55 million pledge from financial news magnate Michael R. Bloomberg to the Johns Hopkins University includes a surprise: $20 million set aside, without restriction, for the endowment of the financially anemic Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.
In addition, $15 million of Mr. Bloomberg's money will be directed toward Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering -- the school from which he received a bachelor's degree in 1964. The donations represent the largest gifts in each school's history, as well.
Mr. Bloomberg also promised to apportion $5 million to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the umbrella group including Hopkins Hospital and its medical school; $4 million to the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies; and $2 million to the Peabody Institute. The rest of the money will be split among other schools and projects at the university.
A buoyant Alfred Sommer, dean of Hopkins' public health school, said the endowment money would help to ease pressures on faculty salary and student tuition.
Fully 80 percent of salary paid to faculty members comes from research grants, causing professors to fight and scrap for contracts, Dr. Sommer said. While Hopkins is highly successful in attracting such funding, "that doesn't leave much margin for error," he said. "It's also an environment of great anxiety and insecurity."
And the 1,450 Hopkins public health students, whose average ** age is 34, often already have a mountain of debt from earlier degrees, he said.
The public health school's endowment, a pool of investments that generates interest to pay for some of the school's operating costs, stood at $48 million June 30. Ninety percent of the school's $146 million budget this year came from outside grants and contracts, officials said.
In a separate move, Hopkins officials have announced they will name the School of Arts and Sciences after benefactor Zanvyl Krieger, whose $50 million challenge grant was the largest gift to the university until Mr. Bloomberg's announcement this month.
In 1992, Mr. Krieger's foundation pledged to match any donation up to $50 million for the school. To date, according to Hopkins officials, that pledge has generated more than $87 million, half from Mr. Krieger.
In naming the arts and sciences school for Mr. Krieger, Hopkins of ficials took an unusual step. While many prestigious business schools and engineering schools -- even on public campuses -- now bear the names of major donors, it is extremely rare for arts and sciences colleges to follow suit.
While it has happened at some campuses, like the University of Baltimore's Yale Gordon School of the Arts and Sciences, it appears to have occurred at few, if any, nationally prominent universities other than Hopkins.
Then again, campus officials say it is rare to secure such large, unrestricted gifts for the humanities and natural sciences.
"You don't encounter people who either have had the capacity to make a gift that warrants that kind of recognition or would find the opportunity to name the arts and sciences to be an attractive way to get recognition," said John Ford, Stanford University's vice president for development.
"When you describe it in terms of Harvard and Yale, I think John Harvard beat everybody to it in 1636," Mr. Ford said, but added, "It sounds like an appropriate thing for Hopkins to do."