Largest gift in Columbia’s history will fund The Jerome L. Greene Science Center

Jerome L. Greene '26CC, '28LAW
Dawn M. Greene
Thanks to a gift valued at more than $200 million — the largest in Columbia’s history — the University will establish a new research and teaching facility to serve as the home for its expanding Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative.

Columbia’s plan to build The Jerome L. Greene Science Center is made possible by the unprecedented generosity of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation and its president and CEO, Dawn M. Greene.

The gift, which is also the largest private donation received by any U.S. university for the creation of a single facility, honors Mrs. Greene’s late husband, Jerome L. Greene ’26CC, ’28LAW, a prominent New York lawyer, real-estate investor, and philanthropist.

Lee C. Bollinger announced the plan to great fanfare on March 20. “It is with a profound sense of gratitude and appreciation that Columbia University accepts this most generous, and generative, gift from Dawn Greene and the Foundation in honor of Jerry,” Bollinger said. “The Jerome L. Greene Science Center, on our proposed Manhattanville campus, will forever symbolize our ongoing effort to understand the human organism. It will also, in very practical ways, lead to cures for diseases and a deeper grasp of our behavior as individuals and societies. In so doing, The Jerome L. Greene Science Center will carry on the legacy of a great Columbian.”

The Center, to be led by the renowned neurobiologist Thomas Jessell and Nobel laureates Richard Axel and Eric Kandel, will include laboratories in which Columbia scientists will explore the causal relationship between gene function, brain wiring, and behavior. By probing the root causes of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, the Center’s research will have implications for the treatment of brain illness and help decode disorders of mood, motivation, cognition, and behavior, including autism, dementia, and schizophrenia.

The Center will also establish an educational outreach facility and clinical programs with a focus on developmental disorders common in children and diseases of the aging brain. By exploring the brain’s organization and function, researchers will attempt to clarify the workings of the mind that govern the individuality of human action.

“I am thrilled that we are able to do this,” said Mrs. Greene.“I know that Jerry would be as excited as the Foundation and I to be making this gift. He believed in education, especially a Columbia education, and he believed in New York and its future.”

University officials hope to build the new facility in the West Harlem neighborhood of Manhattanville pending public approval of Columbia’s plan for a new campus there.

Among those who joined Bollinger and Mrs. Greene for the announcement were Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. representative Charles Rangel (DNY), whose district includes the proposed site of the new facility. “The Center promises to achieve breakthroughs that will benefit the city, the nation, and the world, and I am proud to support it,” Rangel said. “I am pleased that Columbia is working to gain the support of the community and will work together to gain the necessary approvals so we can begin work on this important project for Harlem and New York.”

“Columbia’s plans for development north of the Morningside campus reflect Jerry’s devotion to continually improving our city, and to expanding educational and research opportunities through the institutions he cared most about,” Mrs. Greene added.

The Greenes are longtime supporters of Columbia, having contributed approximately $40 million to benefit the School of Law, the Mailman School of Public Health, and other programs throughout the University.They have also given generously to a number of additional cultural, educational, and medical institutions in New York.