Columbia Business School in New York is to receive $100m from legendary investor Henry Kravis, co-founder of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), the private equity firm. The gift will be the largest in the school’s history.

The money will be used to help finance the business school’s new facilities on the university’s Manhattanville campus. One of the business school’s two new buildings will be named he Henry R. Kravis Building in recognition of the gift. The new campus will help support the business school’s work in the community through such ventures as the Columbia Community Business Programme, which helps entrepreneurs in West Harlem.

It is a subject that is clearly close to Mr Kravis’ heart. “We’re not just constructing a building; we are building a community of entrepreneurs,” he said at the announcement. “I hope the new facilities will be a place that fuels the most innovative thinking and a place where the entrepreneurial spirit thrives. Idealism, energy and knowledge are fertile ground for social entrepreneurship. Innovation and entrepreneurship at the business school will encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship in the community,”

The gift will go down in the ranks of the most generous gifts to US business schools, along with the $105m gift to Stanford by Philip Knight, founder and chairman of Nike, in 2006 and Stephen Ross’s $100m donation to the University of Michigan in 2004. But all three of these are dwarfed by David Booth’s $300m gift to the University of Chicago in November 2008.

Columbia dean Glen Hubbard that business leaders are faced with more challenging and complex decisions than ever before, “and given less time and less complete information to make them. Our new home in Manhattanville will reflect the way business is conducted in the 21st century.”

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