UIC receives $40M donation, the largest single gift in school history, from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

The University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago’s only public research university, is the recipient of a $40 million donation from philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott. It is the largest gift from an individual in school history.

“Ms. Scott’s extremely generous donation will advance the lives of students who are poised to make great contributions to our city, our state and our world. Her gift is a vote of confidence in the mission of public higher education and in UIC,” said UIC Chancellor Michael D. Amiridis. “This is another important milestone in UIC’s unprecedented growth and burgeoning role as Chicago’s leader in public higher education, providing unique learning opportunities for students, attracting top academic talent and driving innovation and discovery.”

UIC is among 286 high-impact organizations, including 30 other colleges and universities, to receive a portion of $2.7 billion in the latest round of donations announced today by Scott.

“Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for 2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved,” Scott wrote.

The unrestricted funds will be used to create a Student Success Fund, reinforcing UIC’s aim to support student experience and success, the university’s top strategic priority. The Fund will provide life-changing support for first-generation and low-income students attending UIC and will address:

  • Timely Graduation. While many students begin college with the goal of graduating in four years, often those plans are derailed by personal and financial challenges, insufficient planning or other factors. The Student Success Fund will assist students to accelerate their graduation by providing tuition support for summer classes, allowing them to complete college on time and with less debt.
  • Living-learning communities. Research has shown that students in living-learning communities are progressing and graduating at higher rates because they have the opportunity to engage more with fellow students, faculty and staff, and to participate in valuable experiences outside of the classroom. UIC has eight such communities and the Student Success Fund will be used to grow and expand these communities by providing financial support for students’ on-campus housing costs.
  • Internships. Very often, low-income and first-generation college students have to bypass internship opportunities because of financial limitations, especially in fields where such internships with non-profit or volunteer organizations come without financial compensation. The Student Success Fund will expand a pilot UIC internship program, which already supports and enhances the experience of students who would like to take advantage of unpaid internships, to gain hands-on experience and further their career development.
  • Basic needs. Fifty percent of UIC students come from households with annual incomes below $50,000 and are supported during their studies primarily by federal and state financial aid. Some of these students often find themselves in need for basic necessities, including food. The Student Success Fund will support a significant expansion of UIC’s Pop-Up Pantry, an initiative that keeps our most vulnerable students nourished, healthy, and academically engaged by providing food and other basic necessities.

“Public higher education continues to be the social ladder of advancement for talented individuals of all backgrounds. UIC’s social ladder runs deep and is very broad,” said Amiridis. “It’s an honor to have our institution recognized for providing the highest quality education to a diverse student body who will become our future leaders.”

UIC is a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) and one of the most diverse college campuses in the U.S. It is one of only 16 institutions in the country that is designated as both a Carnegie 1 Institution (R1) and a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and it is also designated as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI). Nearly 60% of first-time freshmen at UIC are Pell grant eligible and 35% identify as first-generation college students.

Scott emphasized in her announcement that “Generosity is generative. Sharing makes more.” This transformational contribution counts toward IGNITE: The Campaign for UIC’s $750 million goal.

About UIC

Located in the heart of one of the world’s great cities, the University of Illinois Chicago is the city’s largest university and only public research institution. Its 16 academic colleges serve more than 33,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UIC is recognized as one of the most ethnically rich and culturally diverse campuses in the nation, a leader in providing access to underrepresented students. In the 2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings, UIC ranked among the top 30 ethnically diverse and top 30 economically diverse universities, among both public and private universities. UIC is the only Illinois university ranked among the 10 best value colleges in the nation by Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education. 

UIC students become professionals in fields ranging from law and business to engineering, education, liberal arts and sciences, urban planning, and social work, as well as architecture, design and the arts. With one of the largest colleges of medicine in the nation, and colleges of dentistry, pharmacy, public health, nursing, social work, and applied health sciences, UIC is also the state’s principal educator of health professionals and a major healthcare provider to underserved communities. The University reported a record $410 million in annual sponsored research awards in fiscal year 2020. UIC is an integral part of the educational, technological, and cultural fabric of Chicago.