The University of Michigan has announced a $110 million gift of securities from alumnus and Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charles T. Munger for fellowships and a new state-of-the-art graduate residence complex.
The largest gift in the university's 196-year history will help fund construction of a 370,000-square-foot, eight-story building that will serve as a residential society where graduate students from different disciplines live, study, and interact. The gift also includes $10 million for fellowships. The proposed facility will house more than six hundred graduate students — including those selected from the university's nineteen schools and colleges to receive fellowships — and visiting faculty in apartments that include between three and seven individual bed/study rooms with private bathrooms, a shared kitchen, and common dining and living areas. To encourage lively interaction within and across disciplines, the eighth floor will feature gathering spaces, a fitness center, a commissary, a fellows' room, and a panoramic view of the campus and downtown Ann Arbor.
The building, which will be built to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver certification and will open in the fall of 2015, is projected to cost $185 million — $85 million of which will be funded by lease revenue. The design, which the veteran money manager helped develop, grew out of Munger's experience with funding a large graduate student housing complex of four-bedroom apartments at Stanford University, his late wife Nancy's alma mater.
"This is an innovative and communal approach to graduate school education," said UM president Mary Sue Coleman. "Most universities do not take a community-like approach, and this project envisions an approach that makes graduate study less isolated. We see this as a revolutionary concept and an exciting opportunity for us to nurture graduate education within our ecosystem."