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$50 Million Donation to Establish Leadership Institution at Rice

By Anita Alem     6/20/15 1:01pm

Rice University alumni Ann (Jones ‘75) and John (Lovett ‘73) Doerr donated the largest donation Rice has ever received to establish the Doerr Institute for New Leaders. The $50 million donation will help develop both graduate and undergraduate Rice students into leaders through innovative practices and hands-on, personalized coaching. Retired Brigadier General Tom Kolditz has been appointed to direct the institute after a yearlong international search.

John Doerr, a venture capitalist who previously helped foster success in Silicon Valley companies, said the institute will focus on cultural and global inclusion and directly address issues that concern millennials.

“Millennials want to see the big picture and their role in it, get frequent feedback and be empowered — not micromanaged,” John Doerr said. “Ideas are easy; executing those ideas with a well-led team is paramount. New leaders must be inclusive, self-aware and great listeners who are attuned to the needs of their teams.”

Ann Doerr, who has held several management positions and is currently the chair of Khan Academy, said she and her husband had previously donated $15 million to establish the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership in 2009. RCEL has since resulted in groups like Engineers Without Borders, which sends student leaders to Nicaragua and Honduras. However, the Doerrs said they would like to see all students, regardless of major, develop leadership skills.

Kolditz, who has more than 25 years of experience in leadership roles, said he believes four years at the Doerr Institute would allow students to continue fostering their abilities even after graduation.

“Most of a person’s capacity to lead is learned,” Kolditz said. “Seventy percent of that is gained through experience, not classrooms, so the opportunities to lead teams at Rice are essential to the success of the Doerr Institute.”

Kolditz previously held positions as the director of the Leadership Development Program at the Yale School of Management and leading the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Rice President David Leebron said he is hopeful about the impact the institute would have on Rice’s transformative undergraduate experience.

“By donating the largest single gift in the university’s history and dedicating it to leadership education, the Doerrs will enable Rice to be the front-runner in empowering students with the skills, training and confidence to make a true difference in the world,” Leebron said.

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