The University of Illinois has received a ground-breaking gift to finance ground-breaking research.
If a financial gift to a university can be characterized as potentially transformative, the $100 million donation to the UI's College of Engineering fits that description.
The donation by the Grainger Foundation will be used to explore new areas of bioengineering and data mining through facility upgrades, boosts in faculty and attracting and assisting the very best students. That's about as complete an effort as can be conceived in the nonstop quest to boost the quality of human life through research.
This joint effort is a reprise of an old partnership that speaks very well of both the Grainger Foundation and the UI's esteemed engineering college.
The late W.W. Grainger, an electrical engineering graduate in 1919, represents the classic case of the diligent student who did well by doing well and credited his alma mater for contributing to his success.
He built W.W. Grainger Inc., an industrial supply firm, and made a fortune. He created the Grainger Foundation to spread that wealth around to important enterprises, including engineering research.
If the Grainger name sounds familiar, it should. The foundation contributed nearly $19 million in 1994 to help finance the Grainger Engineering Library.
Apparently happy with that investment, the foundation this week contributed another $100 million to finance ground-breaking scholarship.
This is philanthropy at its best — a donation aimed at helping an institution pursue research that has the potential to improve the lives of people all over this country and the world.
That the Grainger Foundation viewed the UI's engineering college as a worthy recipient of its generosity speaks volumes about the quality of this treasured academic entity.
There's no shortage of worthy recipients for grants of this nature, and institutions like the Grainger Foundation don't hand out $100 million unless they have tremendous confidence in those on the receiving end.
The UI's sacred trust, one we are certain it will fulfill, is to use this incredibly generous gift to create top-notch facilities, fill them with outstanding professors and students and change the world. That would, no doubt, immensely please W.W. Grainger.