$400 Million Gift to Ben-Gurion U.

June 27, 2016

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on Friday announced a $400 million gift that will more than double the size of its endowment. The university believes the gift, from the estate of Howard and Lottie Marcus, formerly of California, may be the largest ever bequest to an Israeli academic institution.

According to the university’s announcement, the Marcuses fled Nazi Germany in 1930s and lost most of their family members in the Holocaust. They met after immigrating to the U.S., where Howard worked as a dentist and Lottie as a secretary at a Wall Street firm. They made their fortune by investing early in what later became Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company chaired by Warren Buffett.

The Marcuses first encountered Ben-Gurion in 1997, after which they began supporting research in water, desalination and desert studies. Ben-Gurion President Rivka Carmi described the couple as "rare and special people" and as "Holocaust survivors who lived a simple and humble life and joined their fate and their legacy to that of the state of Israel."

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