Former Citigroup (c) CEO and chairman Sanford “Sandy” Weill and his wife, Joan, are set to make history at the University of California, San Francisco by giving the school its largest donation ever: $185 million.
The donation to UCSF will help fund a new center for neuroscience research at the university, specifically a 270,000-square-foot building at its campus in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco, according to the New York Times. It will will house a neuroscience initiative that’s intended to bring laboratory work to a patient’s bedside, removing artificial boundaries that often plague academia. Weill, who built Citigroup into one of the world’s biggest financial services companies, told the Times that research on the brain is “far behind” and that the couple has family and friends who have suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The Weills are longtime benefactors of universities on the East Coast, most notably Sandy Weill’s alma mater Cornell University in their home state of New York. Cornell’s medical school, Weill Cornell Medical College, is one of their most prominent causes.
The Weills’ charitable track record beyond Cornell is easily seen in the other educational institutions and cultural centers that bear their names. New York has Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and the Joan Weill Center for Dance. There’s a Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall at Sonoma State University in California, and the Ramban Health Care Campus in Israel is home to the Joan and Sanford I. Weill pediatric hematology-oncology department. Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York was going to be renamed Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College after the couple promised a $20 million donation to the school, but last year a judge ruled that the college could not change its name and the Weills withdrew their gift.
All of those donations—including the latest to UCSF, where Weill serves as chairman of the executive council—push the couple’s total charitable giving past the $1 billion mark, which reflects their promise to abide by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge, which asks the world richest people to donate most of their fortunes to philanthropy.
Sandy Weill is worth an estimated $1.06 billion, according to Forbes.