For immediate release
December 10, 2008
Contact: Julie Green Bataille
Georgetown University today announced that it has received the largest philanthropic gift in its history, a gift from the estate of Robert L. McDevitt that is estimated to total approximately $75 million. McDevitt, a 1940 graduate of Georgetown's undergraduate college of arts and sciences and a former Georgetown regent, lived in his native Binghamton, N.Y., for most of his life, where he died on September 22 at the age of 90.
McDevitt directed that a portion of his estate establish a fund to endow faculty positions at Georgetown, with particular emphasis on some disciplines that reflect his deep Catholic faith, long-standing interest in science and technology, and commitment to Georgetown University. The McDevitt gift will support faculty compensation and the research, technology, and staffing infrastructure necessary to create and support academic work of national and international distinction.
"The McDevitts' generosity supports one of the university's most critical priorities -securing and strengthening Georgetown's faculty excellence into the future," said John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University. "I am deeply grateful to the McDevitt family for their recognition of the important teaching, research and scholarship conducted by our faculty. I am particularly moved that this gift supports areas of personal meaning to them that are so critical to our ongoing efforts to enhance our academic quality and Catholic and Jesuit mission."
Robert McDevitt owned and operated McDevitt Brothers Funeral Home, a family business started by his grandfather in Binghamton, N.Y, where he was born and raised. In addition to applying his business acumen to the success of the mortuary business, McDevitt was a longtime investor in IBM, which traces its roots since the early 1900s to the village of Endicott, which is part of the greater Binghamton area.
McDevitt's mother, Mary McDevitt, was the secretary to A. Ward Ford, president of the Computing- Tabulating- Recording Company, the predecessor of IBM. McDevitt had shared with Georgetown leaders that his mother was one of the original employees of the company, working there from about 1895 to 1905. McDevitt recalled that his mother had borrowed $125 to buy stock during this time, and that those original shares were still part of his portfolio of IBM stock. The majority of his gift to Georgetown will be in IBM stock.
McDevitt's wife, Catherine, passed away in April, only sixth months prior to her husband's death. The couple possessed a deep Catholic faith and were members of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great (he was designated Knight and she a Dame within the order).
Brian McDermott, S.J., member of Georgetown's Board of Directors, visited the McDevitt's when he served on Georgetown's faculty and as Rector of the Jesuit Community. He recalls the couple as "a man and woman of deep faith," and says "this gift to Georgetown exemplifies their legacy by recognizing the important ongoing contributions that scholars can make to address the strategic issues of our day."
Prior to the McDevitt gift, the largest gift received by Georgetown was a $30 million gift from the late Robert Emmett McDonough to the business school, which is named in his honor. McDonough, a California businessman, was a 1947 graduate of Georgetown's School of Foreign Service.
About Georgetown University
Georgetown University is the oldest and largest Catholic and Jesuit university in America, founded in 1789 by Archbishop John Carroll. Georgetown today is a major student-centered, international, research university offering respected undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in Washington, D.C., Doha, Qatar and around the world. For more information about Georgetown University, visit www.georgetown.edu.