Billionaire investor Kenneth Griffin, who has donated more than half a billion dollars to Harvard University over the years, has halted his donations to the school over its mishandling of antisemitic incidents on campus and a broader leadership crisis involving its former president.
Griffin, who started trading in his Harvard dormitory before becoming the most profitable hedge fund manager, told an audience at the Managed Funds Association conference in Miami on Tuesday that he stopped donations, for now.
"He said he no longer supports his alma mater, "I've made that clear to members of the corporate board."
Griffin made headlines in April 2023 when he gave $300 million to Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, raising the total amount of his donations to more than half a billion.
Months later students and alumni criticized Claudine Gay, who had been named Harvard's first black president in 2023, for her handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations soon after the October 7 attack and the ensuing war and and her testimony to Congress where she was unwilling to outright condemn calls for the genocide of Jews. Allegations of plagiarism also mounted and Gay resigned earlier this month.
While other alumni, including hedge fund manager Bill Ackman who has given roughly $50 million to the school, publicly called for Gay to be removed, Griffin had made no public comments about Harvard before Tuesday.
"“Until Harvard makes it very clear that they’re going to resume their role as [educators of] young American men and women to be leaders, to be problem solvers, to take on difficult issues, I am not interested in supporting the institution,” Griffin said.
He left open the door to resuming his financial support but made clear changes must be made tohow the school pursues its mission.
Speaking more generally about America's elite universities, Griffin said: "The real question is will (they) get back to their roots of educating American children, young adults, to be the future leaders of our country, or are they going to maintain being lost in the wilderness of microaggressions, a DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) agenda that seems to have no real end game, and just being lost in the wilderness?"
Griffin's Citadel manages $56 billion. In 2022, the firm posted an annual gain of $16 billion, making it the most successful hedge fund of all time, according to LCH Investments.
Harvard is the wealthiest university in the United States with a $50.7 billion endowment but alumni like Ackman have accused it of mismanaging the assets. Griffin's stance now suggests other mega donors may also slow or stop their donations at a time tuition for undergraduates hovers around $80,000 a year and critics say its fees are becoming unaffordable.