From a $5 contribution soon after he graduated to a historic $1.8 billion gift in support of undergraduate financial aid, Michael R. Bloomberg's steadfast support, unrivaled generosity, and leadership that have touched every corner of Johns Hopkins University over the past half century—its facilities and infrastructure, its research and academic endeavors, and the quality and diversity of its student body.
To date, Bloomberg has now given Johns Hopkins University more than $3.35 billion dollars—by far the most ever by an individual to an American college or university—punctuated by an announcement on Nov. 18 that he was giving $1.8 billion to his alma mater, allowing Johns Hopkins to significantly enhance its financial aid packages, as well as becoming permanently need-blind and loan-free.
The unprecedented commitment, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels wrote in a message to the university community, "echoes and honors the example forged by Johns Hopkins almost 150 years ago." Hopkins' $7 million bequest—at the time the largest philanthropic gift in U.S. history—founded the university and The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"This historic gift reflects Mike Bloomberg's deep belief in the transformative power of higher education and his insistence that it be accessible to all qualified students, regardless of financial means," Daniels said. "It also affirms Mike's profound devotion to this university for the role that it played in enriching his life."
Bloomberg's support of the university began modestly when he was a young alumnus: His first contribution of $5 came soon after he graduated with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.
Bloomberg made his first large-scale commitment to the university in 1984, 20 years after his graduation, donating $1 million to create a professorship in the humanities named in honor of his mother, Charlotte. He also honored his mother with a $120 million gift toward construction of the new Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children's Center. The 12-story, 560,000-square-foot tower at The Johns Hopkins Hospital opened in 2012.
In 2013, Bloomberg's $350 million gift—before now, the largest ever to the university—provided $250 million to endow the Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships, a group of 50 world-class, cross-disciplinary faculty members working to address global challenges and to teach and mentor the next generation of eminent scholars. To date, 36 Bloomberg Distinguished Professors have been announced.
That same gift also dedicated $100 million to support need-based undergraduate student financial aid over a 10-year period. The scholarships ensure that talented and high-achieving students are admitted to Johns Hopkins, regardless of economic circumstance.
Beyond financial assistance, the scholarships include supportive programming, such as lectures by and meet-and-greet sessions with Bloomberg Distinguished Professors, said first-year student Crystal Zhao. She counts these gatherings among the "world of possibilities" that would have been out of reach without the Bloomberg Scholarships program.
"I am just so grateful because, honestly, I would not have been able to afford Hopkins without loans—like, large loans—before receiving the Bloomberg Scholarship," Zhao said. "And although I think I would have tried my best to take out loans and work through college and have my mom support me as well, it would have been much more difficult."
The university's renowned Bloomberg School of Public Health, the No. 1-ranked school of public health in the world, bears Bloomberg's name, as does its Bloomberg American Health Initiative, launched in 2016 with a $300 million gift from Bloomberg to tackle some of the nation's most pressing public health concerns—drug addiction, obesity, gun violence, adolescent health, and environmental threats.
Bloomberg's latest gift underscores his personal commitment to addressing the challenges of access to higher education, an issue he is also taking on through his foundation's American Talent Initiative, of which Johns Hopkins is a founding member, and through College Point, a college advising program.
"I want to be sure the school that gave me a chance will be able to permanently open that same door of opportunity for generations of talented students, regardless of their ability to pay," Bloomberg said in a New York Times op-ed announcing his gift on Nov. 18. Making admissions at Hopkins forever need blind, he said, "will allow the school to offer more generous scholarships. It will ease the burden of student debt for many graduates. And it will help open up the American dream to more young people."
In his message, Daniels expressed heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Bloomberg and reaffirmed the university's "sincere determination, in word and in deed, to vindicate the very substantial trust he has reposed in us. We are profoundly grateful. We are truly blessed."