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Venture capitalist Swartz donates $10 million to CMU

Renowned venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and Carnegie Mellon alumnus James Swartz (MSIA ’66) has made a $10 million donation to the Tepper School of Business.

According to a university press release, the donation by Swartz and his wife Susan Swartz aims to support “business education, cutting-edge research, learning technologies and interdisciplinary collaboration.” The university’s press release also included that the donation “will be used for the construction of a 295,000 square-foot facility in the Tepper Quad that will house a number of strategically interconnected entities, including the university’s Tepper School of Business, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Simon Initiative and quality of life enhancements for the entire CMU community.”

Dean of Student Affairs Gina Casalegno emailed The Tartan, “Mr. and Mrs. Swartz’s generous gift to support the new Tepper quad is a powerful statement about Carnegie Mellon’s impact on our alumni and their desire to give back to the university. Whether through the contribution of time as a mentor to students, continued financial support, or helping to shape the vision of Carnegie Mellon’s future, alumni engagement like Mr. Swartz’s is to be admired and celebrated.”

Swartz was a founding partner of Accel Partners, a firm which has aided the creation of technology companies including Dropbox, Kayak, Facebook, and Groupon.

“At Carnegie Mellon I learned to master management science, constructing business models to solve challenges that were completely new to the marketplace and unleashing the power of data for smarter business decisions,” Swartz said in a university press release, adding that “those lessons, and the skills that I developed as a result of them, have greatly benefited me throughout my entrepreneurial career. I recognize the university’s new vision for the future of business education and entrepreneurship and I am pleased to contribute toward their efforts to the benefit of new technologies and future generations of students.”

“Wow, that’s a whole lot of money that Tepper’s getting,” sophomore computer science and robotics double major Gillian Rosen said. “I’m glad that they’re giving us money. More money means more cool things that we can do.”

First-year design major Linna Griffin had a more mixed reaction. “It seems to me that there’s a lot that could go well with this money. I think it’s genuinely a great opportunity to send money to increase, not the class sizes, of course, but increase the depth and breadth of classes and increase the utilities that students can use in order to educate themselves hands-on,” she said. “I have yet to have any notice as to how exactly this money will be used and I think, coming down to the wire, it’ll really depend on how it’s used rather than the money itself being present at the university.”

University President Subra Suresh stated in his campus-wide email that Swartz is dedicated to the success of the recently announced Tepper Quadrangle on campus. Suresh described Swartz as a “longstanding adviser to, and supporter of, the Tepper School and Carnegie Mellon. He has been especially engaged as a leader and an inspiration in advancing the university’s efforts in entrepreneurship and innovation, which is a planned area of focus for the new Tepper Quad.”

Dean of the Tepper School of Business Robert M. Dammon said in the press release that Swartz “is a pioneer in the world of entrepreneurship, creating order out of chaos, allowing new technologies to develop and flourish in the marketplace. The new home for our business school will enable an expansion of entrepreneurship across the university campus and will allow us to expand the possibilities for innovative research and interdisciplinary degrees and provide a flexible technological framework that anticipates the needs of next-generation learning.”