Gift to transform Hall of Graduate Studies honors David Swensen

Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin ’78 have made a major contribution toward the restoration of the Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS) and its transformation into a home for the humanities at Yale, President Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D. announced.

Their gift of $25 million will play an important role in securing the success of this vital renovation, noted Salovey. Rausing and Baldwin have asked that, in tribute to the singular service of David Swensen ’80 Ph.D. as the university’s chief investment officer, Yale name the iconic tower at HGS the David Swensen Tower, and Yale has very gladly agreed, said the President.

Swensen has been instrumental in sustaining Yale’s excellence and growth for the last 30 years. Under his stewardship the Yale endowment has grown more than 24 times in value to its current $23.9 billion (as of June 30, 2014), providing over $12 billion to support Yale’s operations and key initiatives. Swensen redefined the model for institutional investing with a strategy that emphasizes diversification, especially with illiquid and alternative assets. Rausing and Baldwin have made this new commitment to the university to honor their friendship with Swensen and his achievements at Yale.

The renovation of the hall will enable the university to co-locate currently dispersed humanities departments under one roof. A flexible physical infrastructure will offer a vital setting for cross-disciplinary collaboration to advance research and teaching in ways that can redefine the humanities at the university and beyond, said Provost Ben Polak. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine campus space for the humanities. The renovated Hall of Graduate Studies will situate the humanities literally and figuratively at the heart of university life, and stand as a testament to Yale’s enduring commitment to the vibrancy and centrality of the humanities.”

Rausing and Baldwin’s gift helps further this monumental initiative and builds on their visionary investment in culture and its preservation and dissemination at Yale. The couple contributed the lead gift of $25 million to launch the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) in 2011. Located at the Yale West Campus, the institute focuses on the conservation of cultural heritage and houses state-of-the-art conservation, digitization, and research laboratories. An interdisciplinary venture, the IPCH has ties to the university’s renowned museum and library collections as well as the scientific and technical expertise of Yale’s schools and academic departments.

Individually and through their Arcadia Fund, Rausing and Baldwin have also supported digitization of primary materials at the Yale University Library and directed grants to the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute) for the training of conservation professionals in tropical Asia and Central America. The Arcadia Fund, set up by Baldwin and Rausing in 2002, benefits charities and scholarly institutions that preserve cultural heritage and the environment, and promotes open access to information. Since then, Arcadia has awarded more than $330 million in grants to projects around the world.