BALTIMORE (AP) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is donating US$350 million (S$432 million) to Johns Hopkins University, the bulk of it to help expand its research on such cross-discipline issues as global health and urban revitalisation, as his lifetime giving to his alma mater soars past US$1 billion, the university said.
University officials announced the commitment late on Saturday and said they believe Mr Bloomberg, who amassed his fortune creating the global financial services firm Bloomberg, is now the first person to give more than US$1 billion to a single American university.
Most of the latest gift, US$250 million, will be part of a larger effort to raise US$1 billion to foster cross-disciplinary work on global issues at Johns Hopkins, the university said. Funds initially will be used toward the appointment of faculty for interdisciplinary work on a series of issues that also will include individualised health-care delivery, sustainability of water resources and the science of learning.
The remaining US$100 million is to be devoted to need-based financial aid for undergraduate students, awarding 2,600 Bloomberg scholarships in the next 10 years, it said.
It added that the latest gift brings Mr Bloomberg's giving to the institution at just more than US$1.11 billion in the 49 years since he graduated, including his first gift of US$5 in 1965 only a year after he received his bachelor's degree in engineering from Johns Hopkins.
"Johns Hopkins University has been an important part of my life since I first set foot on campus more than five decades ago," Mr Bloomberg said in a statement released by the university. "Each dollar I have given has been well-spent improving the institution and, just as importantly, making its education available to students who might otherwise not be able to afford it."
Mr Bloomberg added that his giving was intended to make a difference in people's lives.
"I know of no other institution that can make a bigger difference in lives around the world through its groundbreaking research - especially in the field of public health," he said in the statement.
University president Ronald J. Daniels praised Mr Bloomberg for being a "visionary philanthropist" for social good on the order of Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and the school's founder, Johns Hopkins.
Mr Daniels said the chief impact of Mr Bloomberg's gift would be to strengthen the university's multi-disciplinary approach to solving key societal problems.
"This latest initiative allows us to greatly accelerate our investment in talented people and bring them together in a highly creative and dynamic atmosphere," Mr Daniels added. "It illustrates Mike's passion for fixing big problems quickly and efficiently."
Money from the gift is expected to endow 50 distinguished professors to be recruited worldwide with expertise spanning traditional academic disciplines. The school said the work of those recruited would bridge disciplines and schools such as medicine, the humanities, public health and education, social science and engineering.
The New York mayor has remained closely involved with the university where he graduated in 1964, including stints on its board of trustees from 1996 to 2002 and as chairman of the Johns Hopkins Initiative fundraising campaign.
The university said Mr Bloomberg made his first US$1 million commitment to the university in 1984, 20 years after his graduation. Later gifts included US$120 million toward the construction of a children's section at The John Hopkins Hospital in honour of his late mother. All told, the university said, Mr Bloomberg's philanthropy has benefited Johns Hopkins in many ways, including improvements to facilities, research and the quality of its student body.
The latest gift touched off praise and excited reactions on the university website after the announcement.