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Harvard Corporation’s Newest Member Donates $20 Million for Arts & Humanities, Financial Aid

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Billionaire Joseph Y. Bae ’94 and author Janice Y.K. Lee ’94, his wife, donated $20 million to Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences to endow the Arts and Humanities deanship and bolster financial aid for undergraduates, the University announced Thursday.

The announcement comes just over a month after FAS Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra announced that Philosophy professor Sean D. Kelly would serve as the next Arts and Humanities dean, effective July 1.

Bae, a co-CEO of global investment firm KKR, and Lee are longtime Harvard donors — having previously endowed several positions and backed a push to hire more scholars of Asian American studies. The donation comes just more than one month before Bae joins the Harvard Corporation, the University’s top governing board.

Both Bae and Lee are extremely active among Harvard’s various advisory committees. They are both members of the FAS Dean’s Council, the FAS Committee on Financial Aid, and Harvard’s Global Advisory Council.

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The gift comes as the FAS has suffered a particularly harsh drop in giving, with year-over-year donations down 16 percent as of December, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Several of Harvard’s largest donors — including billionaire hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin ’89, who announced a $300 million gift to the FAS last year — have declared they would halt donations over concerns about how Harvard has handled campus antisemitism and student protests.

Bae and Lee’s contribution represents a morale boost for Harvard’s fundraising efforts — and a chance to generate positive headlines as alumni flock back to Cambridge for Harvard’s reunion weekend, historically a busy season for giving.

Interim University President Alan M. Garber ’76 told the Harvard Gazette, a University-run publication, that Bae and Lee were “eloquent advocates for higher education and devoted citizens of the University.”

Hoekstra told the Gazette that the donation ensures that the incoming Arts and Humanities dean “will have the resources to advance a bold and affirmative vision for the disciplines at the heart of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.”

“Their support couldn’t come at a better time for the Division of the Arts and Humanities,” she said.

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at tilly.robinson@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @tillyrobin.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at neil.shah@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @neilhshah15.

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