Philanthropist Peter Gruber dies at 85

Yale President Peter Salovey and The Gruber Foundation at Yale have announced the death in New York on Oct. 18 of Peter Gruber,

Peter Gruber
one of the nation’s leading philanthropists and the co-founder of the foundation dedicated to scientific and humanitarian initiatives both at Yale and throughout the world.

“The university community and all who strive for scientific discovery, justice, and human rights stand with me to recognize and applaud Peter Gruber’s enduring legacy,” said Salovey. “He has been an inspiration to many at Yale, as well as to countless others. From the study of the nearby universe to sequencing of the human genome, Peter and his wife, Patricia, have inspired truth and knowledge and helped to secure a better world for future generations. He will be remembered and celebrated as a pioneer in emerging markets, as a philanthropist, as a writer, and as a remarkable person.”

Gruber’s death at age 85 comes three years after he and his wife, psychotherapist Patricia Murphy Gruber, announced the establishment of The Gruber Foundation at Yale, which supports three major programmatic initiatives: the Gruber Prizes and the Young Scientists Awards; the Gruber Science Fellowship Program at Yale; and the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights at Yale Law School. The university’s then-president, Richard C. Levin, emphasized a shared commitment between the Grubers and Yale “to educational excellence, social justice, and the recognition of scientific achievements that better the human condition. We are honored and grateful that the Grubers have entrusted Yale to advance this vital mission.”

The Grubers had a record of philanthropy through The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, established in 1993 and noted for the awarding of its annual international prizes. With the foundation’s affiliation with Yale in 2011, its program was expanded to also support graduate fellowships and the missions of the Justice and Women’s Rights Prizes evolved into the global justice and women’s rights program, administered by the Law School.

The Gruber Foundation now awards three $500,000 Gruber Prizes each year in the physical and life sciences, including a Cosmology Prize, a Genetics Prize, and a Neuroscience Prize. Considered among the most prestigious awards in the sciences, the prizes honor contemporary individuals throughout the world whose groundbreaking work provides new models that inspire and enable fundamental shifts in knowledge.

In addition, the Gruber Young Scientist Awards annually recognize brilliant early-career scientists in the fields of astronomy, neuroscience, and genetics. The Gruber Foundation has further supported the training of the most promising young researchers by funding the Gruber Science Fellowship Program which underwrites graduate fellowships at Yale in the life sciences, cosmology, and astrophysics.

The Gruber Fellowship is considered a valuable aid to recruitment of talented graduate students, according to Carl Hashimoto, assistant dean of the Graduate School and director of the Gruber Science Fellowship program. Ravi Dinesh, a 2012 Gruber Fellow in immunology at Yale, said, “The fellowship, along with my interactions with the faculty, convinced me to come here over Harvard,” and Emilio Salazar, a 2013 Gruber Fellow, said receiving the fellowship also played a role in his decision to attend Yale.

Under the auspices of the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights at Yale Law School, a number of Gruber Fellowships in Global Justice and Women’s Rights are awarded to Yale graduates to help foster international understanding and dialogue. These postgraduate fellowships allow recent alumni of Yale graduate and professional schools to spend a year working on issues of relevance to the fields of global justice and/or women’s rights.

The Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights at Yale Law School also sponsors campus events including the Global Constitutionalism Seminar and the Gruber Distinguished Lectures in Global Justice and Women’s Rights. In addition, the program provides support to the university’s Global Health Leadership Institute for a new visiting scholars program to connect scholars from around the world with students and faculty at Yale in order to explore issues including governance and access to medicines, health systems modeling, and health management.

Gruber’s own life and career gave him a broad outlook on global issues and on social and technological developments, according to Salovey. Born in Hungary and forced to flee with his family by the outbreak of World War II, he was raised in India and attended university in Melbourne, Australia. After becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen and serving in the U.S. Army Finance Corps, he went to work on Wall Street. Gruber built a successful asset management business as a pioneer in emerging markets.

Family and associates issued a statement calling Gruber “a modern Renaissance man — an inspiration to those who knew him — and also humble about his accomplishments. He was known to downplay his generosity with the saying ‘I throw my glass, that others might throw their jade.’ Mr. Gruber’s philanthropic legacy is continued by The Gruber Foundation, with which his wife, Patricia, remains closely associated. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children Vicki Gruber Callahan and Ron Gruber, five grandchildren and a great grandson, as well as a twin brother.”

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