Neubauer Family Foundation $25 million gift accelerates UChicago ability to attract high performance, high impact graduate students

PhD students
New $25 million gift will provide resources to recruit PhD students in the divisions of the Humanities, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.
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Jean Lachat
Jeremy Manier
Assistant Vice President of CommunicationsUniversity Communications

The University of Chicago, in pursuit of knowledge creation and dissemination at its most rigorous levels, trains graduate students committed to pushing the boundaries of what is known and who are determined to find compelling ways to apply original thinking to fundamental problems. Such high performance, high impact doctoral students embody the University’s mission to pursue inquiry and impact at its highest levels.

A new $25 million gift from the Neubauer Family Foundation, the largest in the University’s history for PhD education, will provide enhanced resources to recruit PhD students in the divisions of the Humanities, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. Stipends will enable top students to choose an academic destination based on intellectual, rather than financial considerations. In addition, the gift will strengthen programs and support to enhance students’ professional skills, preparing them to become next-generation leaders in a broad range of careers.

“The most direct way to change the world for the better is to invest in human capital,” said Joseph Neubauer, MBA’65, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “This gift is intended to enable the University of Chicago to recruit top academic talent at the PhD level—future change agents who will graduate with both knowledge and purpose, intent on effecting substantive, lasting, positive improvement in their chosen fields.”

“The University of Chicago never stops probing for opportunity to push the boundaries of knowledge creation. In many places, there is an artificial divide between the utility of insights gained from the study of math and the physical sciences and those garnered from the humanistic and social sciences,” said Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer. “The University of Chicago is focused on complex problem-solving. Scientific knowledge helps with the ‘how.’ The humanities define the ‘why.’ Graduate students at the University are challenged by multiple perspectives and strengthened by their ability to use them.”

The Neubauers have supported groundbreaking research and innovative initiatives at the University through a series of major gifts in recent decades, with lifetime giving eclipsing $125 million. The Neubauer Family Foundation is particularly noted for innovative investments in human capital. Past gifts have supported the founding of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, which creates new communities of inquiry through faculty research projects, a global fellows initiative and exhibitions. The Neubauers have supported fellowships for faculty in the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and graduate students in the Division of the Humanities, the Neubauer Family Adelante Summer Scholars program and the International Odyssey Scholarship program, initiatives in the College to remove financial barriers for academically gifted students, and an expansion of research and education in the University’s Department of Computer Science. The Neubauer Family Assistant Professorship Program was established in 2007 to support tenure-track appointments of outstanding young faculty. The family also has endowed numerous student scholarships and other professorships, and supports the Oriental Institute’s Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli in southern Turkey.

“Recruiting the best doctoral students and ensuring that they can flourish and grow intellectually across a wide spectrum of inquiry is fundamental to the success of the University’s mission of research, education and impact,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “The Neubauers’ support for graduate education will help the University attract and support the outstanding students who will go on to become leaders in many fields of endeavor. We are deeply grateful for this latest wonderful gift, which continues a remarkable commitment that brings widespread and lasting benefits for the University, its faculty and students.”

The Neubauer Family Graduate Student Leader/Change Agent Fund will award increased stipends for selected students entering doctoral programs at the University, starting in the 2018-19 academic year. The recipients will be known as Neubauer Family Distinguished Doctoral Fellows and will receive up to six years of enhanced support.

The gift also supports University programs and initiatives for current graduate students including UChicagoGRAD, which works in partnership with the divisions and schools to help graduate students and postdocs navigate their academic and professional careers. UChicagoGRAD’s resources include career support, teacher training via the Chicago Center for Teaching, development of communication skills and assistance in such non-academic areas as exemplified through the Family Resource Center.

“Our goal is to provide our PhD students with the education, support and skills they need to succeed at the highest levels in academia, industry, nonprofits and government. This gift will enable both current and future students to stand out in their chosen fields,” said Sian Beilock, executive vice provost and the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology and the College, who oversees UChicagoGRAD.

Joseph Neubauer was elected chair of the University’s Board of Trustees in 2015. He is the retired chairman of ARAMARK Corporation and has served on the board since 1992. Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer founded the marketing and communications firm J.P. Lerman & Co. and is a former vice president of communications for Time Warner Inc.