U.S. billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, CEO and the chairman of the board of directors of the private equity firm Blackstone, has decided to donate 150 million pounds (approx. 221.4 billion won) to the University of Oxford in the UK. His donation to a British University is drawing attention since the American Wall Street mogul has no connection to the University, according to the Guardian on Wednesday.
The donation will fund establishing a new center called, “The Schwarzman Center,” for humanities, including English literature, philosophy, music, and history. The center will also house a new institute for the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI).
The Guardian reported that it was Oxford University vice-chancellor Louise Richardson, who played a role in persuading Schwarzman. The U.S. billionaire said the decision was also affected by his memory of visiting the University at the age of 16. “I vividly remember going to Oxford because I’d never seen anything like it,” Schwarzman said. “The beauty and the ancient characters of the buildings made a huge impression on me, so that was one factor. Sometimes life works out in odd ways – if I hadn’t gone to visit as a 15-year-old maybe I wouldn’t have been so interested,” he added. Schwarzman stressed that another factor in decision making was “the excellence of the areas that this project is involved with, and the fit between what Oxford is doing and the values that they have been part of developing for western civilization and the need to apply those core values to this rapidly growing area of technology.”
Born from a Jewish family in Philadelphia in 1947, Schwarzman graduated from Yale University and Harvard Business School. He worked for Wall Street firms, such as Lehman Brothers after graduation. The billionaire founder of investment firm Blackstone, which he founded in 1985, has made the biggest private equity firm in the world. Forbes magazine estimated that Schwarzman’s net worth stands at 13.5 billion dollars (approx. 16 trillion won). Schwarzman, a Republican, is a long-time friend of President Donald Trump and George W. Bush, his Yale classmate.
Schwarzman has been donating large sum of money to prestigious universities and institutes around the world, including the New York Public Library in New York, where he lives, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tsinghua University in China as well as his alma mater Yale University. In particular, the U.S. billionaire has been concentrating his donation on the field of AI. Last year, he made a donation to the MIT to establish an AI-related college named after him. After making a donation to Tsinghua University, Schwarzman said he realized, through his visit to China, that fast-developing AI technologies would have a huge impact on the future.
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