MENLO PARK, Calif. – The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has awarded a $113 million grant to the University of California, Berkeley-the largest private gift in the university’s history. The gift, which will create 100 endowed chairs for professors, will help ensure that California’s preeminent public university remains competitive with the best private universities.

The grant will be given over the next seven years and will be used to endow chairs across all of the campus’s fourteen schools and colleges as part of a dollar-for-dollar match with other donations. The Foundation’s grant consists of $110 million for an endowment and an additional $3 million to help manage endowed funds at Berkeley.

“Berkeley is the crown jewel of public higher education-not just in California, but in the country,” said Walter Hewlett, Chairman of the Board of the Hewlett Foundation. “The Foundation’s grant represents our vote of confidence in a truly great institution.”

Paul Brest, President of the Hewlett Foundation, added, “Maintaining the high quality of the Berkeley faculty is essential not only to California but to the nation as a whole.We hope that this grant will help enable Berkeley to maintain its excellence long into the future.”

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau said the gift would help ensure that excellence in teaching and research do not become increasingly the province of elite private universities, whose endowments have swelled in recent years, often enabling them to outbid public institutions for highly regarded scholars.

While UC Berkeley’s endowment has more than doubled to $2.46 billion over the past decade, its growth has been dwarfed by the surge in endowments at peer private institutions. Harvard University’s endowment is nearly $30 billion, and Stanford University’s is about $15 billion.

The disparity has meant that these institutions have been able to lure top professors with salaries as much as 20 percent higher than UC Berkeley can offer. Currently there are 351 endowed chairs on campus, in fields ranging from classics to insect biology. The Hewlett gift, if matched, will increase that number by roughly 30 percent. It also will provide funding to recruit top graduate students, who likewise are being offered substantial incentives by private schools.

The gift is in keeping with the Hewlett Foundation’s long-standing commitment to public education in California. Its Education Program makes grants to improve instruction, conduct research to reform K-12 education policy and seek ways to improve achievement at the state’s community colleges, among other work.

Click here to read Walter Hewlett’s remarks from the press conference at Berkeley.
Click here to read Paul Brest’s remarks from the press conference at Berkeley.
About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy and population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. A full list of all the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found at