Foundation Gives FAS $3 Million

The Arnold D. Frese Foundation, a major contributor to Harvard’s astronomy, financial aid and athletics programs, has donated $3 million to establish a fund under the discretion of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) William C. Kirby.

Kirby will have the flexibility to use the money to support FAS initiatives in financial aid, faculty support and the sciences.

The Frese Dean’s Discretionary Fund is the last of a series of gifts—amounting to more than $8 million—from the Foundation to the University over the past 20 years.

James S. Smith ’49, president of the Frese Foundation, told the Harvard Gazette last week that the foundation’s goal was to create a flexible fund that will allow the University to respond to its changing needs.

“We felt it was important for the dean to have some flexibility, so that he can spend the funds depending on need and circumstances, rather than having them tied up in some way,” he said.


Kirby said the gift will help his office pursue initiatives even as the economy lags.

“It is very rare that a foundation has the broad capacity to provide this kind of a gift,” Kirby said in an interview. “This gift is particularly valuable at a time of real economic uncertainty with enormous challenges.”

The gift comes as FAS is facing an impending budget shortfall.

In a February Faculty meeting, Associate Dean for Finance Cheryl Hoffman-Bray projected that FAS expenses would likely exceed revenues by the year 2005.

The Frese Foundation, established in 1966 by the late shipping magnate Arnold D. Frese, will dissolve after the gift to Harvard.

The fund is meant to outlive the foundation, according to Smith.

“We wanted to create a memorial that would carry on longer than our foundation would,” said Smith.

Smith is a longtime supporter of the University.

He gathered support for Harvard’s joining in the Magellan project, which involved construction and operation of twin telescopes in Chile in 1997.

A $3 million Frese Foundation gift enabled Harvard to join in the project and gave Harvard astronomers the promise of guaranteed time on a telescope in the Andes, where the viewing conditions are almost perfect.

“Thanks to this gift, we were able to become credible participants in the project,” Timken University Professor Irwin I. Shapiro told the Harvard Gazette in 1997. He was then director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Harvard College Observatory.

—Staff writer Yailett Fernandez can be reached at

Recommended Articles