Michael Bloomberg is pretty much the ideal alumnus. He’s rich (like, multibillionaire-rich), powerful (mayor of New York City), and if he’s not handsome (sorry, Mike!), he makes up for it by being loyal. So loyal, in fact, that he has given more than a billion dollars to Johns Hopkins — the largest-ever gift to a single educational institution. So how can Hopkins (or other schools) find their next Bloombergs? Step one: don’t ignore the C-students.
By his own account, Bloomberg had a C average and a measly extracurricular record (math club! and… yep, that’s it, just math club) when he applied to Hopkins in 1960. Of course, these were the days before college rankings (and also before grade inflation, as my dad likes to remind me). Quartz ran Bloomberg’s self-reported GPA through Cappex‘s What Are My Chances college calculators and found that if Bloomberg were applying today, his odds of getting into Hopkins would be “pretty slim.”
Clearly, that would have been a big loss for Hopkins. This week, Bloomberg pledged an additional $350 million to the school to expand its interdisciplinary research and to raise need-based financial aid for undergrads. Add that to the $5 he donated to the school in 1965, one year after he graduated, and all the other pledges he’s made to the school, and the sum comes to $1.11 billion over 49 years. That’s why we’ve got a Bloomberg School of Public Health, Bloomberg Scholars, etc.
This announcement comes just one week after Bloomberg’s appearance at the school’s high-profile Gun Policy Summit, which examined gun violence in America from a public health standpoint. That event made it clear that Bloomberg isn’t one to write a check and then forget all about it; he’s engaged with the university’s research in a hands-on way. Surely, Johns Hopkins is hoping that Bloomberg’s gift — and the press it resulted in — will spur a donation war, since rich folks love to top one another for “biggest gift ever” titles. But we have a feeling this record might stand for a while. Not bad for a C student!