The University of Chicago announced Wednesday a $100-million gift from the Thomas L. Pearson and Pearson Family Members Foundation to create a research institute and annual forum dedicated to the study and resolution of global conflicts.
The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts will occupy a distinctive and unusual niche in academia.
The Pearson foundation donation is equal in amount to an anonymous gift of $100 million in 2007 for the launch of a $400 million undergraduate student aid fundraising initiative.
At a morning news conference, it was revealed that the money was donated by the The Thomas L. Pearson and The Pearson Family Foundation; in addition to the institute, the money also will fund an annual global forum at the university bearing the family’s name.
The university was an attractive candidate to host the institute, because it has a track record of “analytic capacity in the social sciences”, said University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer. United Nations estimates show that in 2014 alone, an estimated 13.9 million individuals were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution, and that one in every 122 people in the world, a total of 59.5 million, is either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum, Thomas Pearson added. The institute will be housed in existing space at the Harris School, so no new construction at the South Side campus is associated with the donation. The Pearsons are business entrepreneurs, investors and philanthropists with a long-standing interest in the resolution of global disputes and conflicts. University officials said they hope the institute will also further Chicago’s image as a “global city”-a recent goal of City Hall”. “This (the study of global conflict) is an area that has not received the rigorous look that many other areas of social sciences have received from the University of Chicago and other universities”. The donation is tied for the second largest ever given to UC, The Tribune noted.
The gift will allow the university to establish four professorships in the public policy school.