CHAMPAIGN — In what is being hailed as the largest gift to a public university this school year, the Grainger Foundation has pledged $100 million to the University of Illinois.
The Lake Forest foundation's donation will establish the Grainger Engineering Breakthroughs Initiative in the College of Engineering that will support researchers and students in areas such as bioengineering and "big data."
The contribution is made in memory and honor of William W. Grainger, a 1919 Illinois graduate in electrical engineering, and the founder of W.W. Grainger Inc. The Grainger Foundation is a long-term benefactor of the College of Engineering.
The gift will create an endowment for engineering chairs and professorships and an endowment to provide broad research support for high impact engineering research collaborations, the UI announced Monday morning. Bioengineering and "big data" are two areas targeted to receive significant resources for new faculty positions and research support.
"This transformative gift will ensure a chain reaction of possibilities that will fortify the campus as a pre-eminent, globally recognized institution," said Chancellor Phyllis Wise.
The gift also will help launch a $100 million fundraising campaign for an endowment for scholarships for students in the College of Engineering, and provide another lead gift for the $40 million renovation of the soon-to-be-vacated Everitt Laboratory building on the engineering campus.
"Thanks to the immense generosity of the Grainger Foundation, and its investment in the College of Engineering at Illinois, the University of Illinois can achieve its ambitious and bold program of knowledge production and excellence in education that will foster innovation to address the critical societal issues of today, and future grand challenges for generations to come," UI President Bob Easter said in a statement.