Family gives UI $14 million for Brazilian studies

Family gives UI $14 million for Brazilian studies

The University of Illinois recently received $14 million to establish a Brazilian studies institute on campus.

Jorge Paulo Lemann of Switzerland and his family have pledged to give $14 million to the university. It is the largest gift ever to the university from non-alumni.

The Lemann Institute will build on the UI's existing programs and initiatives related to Brazil.

It will be based in the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and in International Programs and Studies.

"Our gift stems from our appreciation of the university's contribution in attracting an increasing number of talented Brazilians and in enhancing their education," Lemann said in a written statement. "They, in turn, positively affect Brazilian development and society, as evidenced by the number of Illinois graduates in important jobs throughout Brazil."

Lemann, who was born in Brazil in 1939 to Swiss immigrants, earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1961.

Lemann is a partner of GP Investimentos, a private equity firm.

He and his partners also bought control of a Brazilian brewery that became AmBev, a dominant brewing company in South America. The company merged with Interbrew of Belgium and became InBev SA. InBev reached an agreement in July to buy St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos. and became Anheuser-Busch InBev, now the world's largest brewer.

Lemann was also a tennis champion.

"This generous gift enables the development of an innovative, comprehensive program of study and exchange between the scholars at Illinois and in Brazil," said Ruth Watkins, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The institute will support scholarly exchanges, expand opportunities for students and faculty through in-country study and research and support Brazilian leaders through graduate and professional training opportunities.

"This magnificent gift from the Lemann family will enable us to achieve our goal of establishing a comprehensive, world-class program in Brazilian studies that encompasses undergraduate and graduate study, visiting students and scholars from Brazil, faculty research and exchange, and engagement with leading Brazilian scholars, professionals, and government representatives," Chancellor Richard Herman said in a written statement.

Some institute programs are expected to begin this year. Plans are to hire a director for the institute.