University of Chicago receives largest ever estate gift

The $50 million bequest is expected to help fund the university’s commitments to “educational access and financial aid,” among other things.

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A pedestrian walks past an entrance to the main quadrangles on the Hyde Park campus of the University of Chicago. The university announced Thursday that it had received its largest ever estate gift.

Sun-Times file

The University of Chicago has received a $50 million gift — the institution’s largest ever estate bequest.

The money is coming from the estate of Arley D. Cathey, an alumnus and university patron, the institution said in statement.

“The University of Chicago is deeply grateful to Arley for his generous support of undergraduate education,” said university President Paul Alivisatos. “His bequest emphasizes the importance of UChicago’s transformative education and the university’s unwavering commitment to ensuring access for talented students worldwide.”

Cathey, a businessman and investor, died last year at the age of 93.

The gift is expected to support “UChicago’s commitments to educational access and financial aid, enhanced opportunities for undergraduate research, and new international educational programs for college students and research collaborations sponsored by UChicago faculty abroad,” the university said.

Cathey began attending the university when was he was only 16.

“I really think that reading the classics have helped shape my beliefs to a great extent, probably as much as my family’s instruction has guided me,” Cathey said in a 2012 interview. “The university plays a good role in shaping a person’s beliefs for life. It did mine.”

The gift is not the largest in school history. Among the mega-donations the institution has received over the years is $300 million from David Booth to the business school in 2008.

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