Northwestern just got a whole lot richer, thanks to a donation from Roberta "Bertie" Buffett Elliott, the younger sister of Warren Buffett.
The Northwestern community gathered Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the announcement of alumna Elliott’s $101 million donation to Northwestern, the single largest gift the university has ever received.
“One of the four pillars of the plan was globalization, and thanks to Bertie’s visonary and philanthropy, we now have the resources and the place to transform nearly every corner of the university's global program,” said President Morton Schapiro to a full Pick-Staiger auditorium.
Elliott’s gift will be used to create the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies, “transform[ing] the University’s offerings in the international arena,” Schapiro said. The donation pushes the total amount of money raised by the We Will campaign to over $2 billion, which publicly launched last March.
Elliott was in attendance with her whole family, including her "big brother Warren," as Schapiro reffered to him. Schapiro announced to the crowd, "If you plan on taking a selfie with Warren, be warned: I go first."
Elliott graduated from Northwestern in 1954 and has made several donations to the university in the past, including generous gifts to Northwestern’s Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies. Elliott has now contributed a total of $110 million to the We Will campaign.
Schapiro said that implementation of the gift "begins today" since Elliott took the "unusual step of funding the entire gift immediatly."
Following his announcement, Schapiro moderated a panel discussion on globalization. Representatives from Northwestern’s Qatar campus, the Feinberg School of Medicine and more discussed how media, religion and medicine will play into Northwestern’s future.
Afterward, Schapiro presented Elliott with a plaque to recognize her generous donation. The plaque reads, "For Roberta Buffett Elliott, in grateful recognition of her historic and visionary gift bringing the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies. This Institute will ensure that Northwestern University will forever be at the frontier of global understanding. January 28, 2015."
“I’m very pleased to be able to support the important work that Northwestern does in international studies,” Elliott said in a statement to the University. “A better understanding of the world is critical in an increasingly global society, and the Institute’s research and support of academic programs will help reach that goal.”