Summer 2015

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Alumna Roberta Buffett Elliott and her brother, Warren Buffett, at a campuswide celebration. Photo by Bruce Powell.

Extraordinary Generosity

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Buffett, Simpson-Querrey gifts to transform international studies, biomedical research.

Two historic gifts of approximately $100 million each will transform Northwestern’s programs in international studies and increase support significantly for the University’s biomedical research programs.

Northwestern received the largest single gift in the University’s history, more than $100 million from alumna Roberta Buffett Elliott ’54 to create the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies. The gift increased her total giving to We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern to approximately $110 million. A 1954 graduate of Northwestern, she is the sister of Warren Buffett, the legendary financial investor and chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Also, Northwestern Trustee and alumnus Louis A. Simpson ’58 and his spouse, Kimberly K. Querrey, made an additional $92 million gift to Northwestern in support of the University’s biomedical research programs at the Feinberg School of Medicine.

The latest gift comes just a year after the couple made a $25 million gift to Northwestern to endow the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine (SQI). SQI is conducting some of the world’s most innovative, interdisciplinary research in applying nanotechnology to regenerative medicine. These gifts, along with earlier gifts from Simpson and Querrey, bring their total contributed to We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern to $117.8 million, the largest amount given by a single donor to the campaign.

In regard to the gift from Mrs. Elliott, President Morton Schapiro says, “Bertie’s extraordinary commitment and her unprecedented generosity to Northwestern will fundamentally transform every corner of the University’s global programming.”

Mrs. Elliott decided to fund the entire gift immediately so that the University can begin recruiting the Institute’s founding director and implementing its programs. “Bertie was convinced we couldn’t wait any longer to get this Institute underway and that Northwestern was its perfect home,” President Schapiro adds. “She is a truly visionary philanthropist, and we are honored to have her trust.”

Buffett Institute students

The Buffett Institute will take a multidisciplinary, problem-solving approach to advancing important global issues, such as the spread of democratic political systems, economic development in impoverished regions, immigration policies, the impact of cultural exchanges on societies and global religious movements. The Institute will conduct and facilitate research, coordinate campuswide discussions with visiting experts about global challenges confronting society and provide funding to academic departments and programs throughout the University.

Mrs. Elliott’s historic gift will have broad impact, providing support for:

•  Adding interdisciplinary professorships. The gift will enable Northwestern to hire new faculty members focused on international areas, with joint appointments at the Institute and a number of academic departments.

•  Funding interdisciplinary research. The gift will provide resources for faculty-led research projects with the potential for incubating solutions to critical global issues.

•  Providing scholarships for international students. Up to $20 million of the gift could be used as a matching challenge grant to donors who will endow scholarships benefitting international students.

•  Providing travel grants to students. The additional funding for travel will enable more students who receive financial aid to participate in study abroad and other international travel programs.

“I’m very pleased to be able to support the important work that Northwestern does in international studies,” Mrs. Elliott says. “A better understanding of the world is critical in an increasingly global society, and the Institute’s research and support of academic programs will help reach that goal.”

Mrs. Elliott earned a degree in history and Phi Beta Kappa honors from Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. While at Northwestern, she was on the staff of the Daily Northwestern and was a member of the Women’s Debate Team, YWCA and the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She served as co-chair of her 50th class reunion in 2004. Two of her grandchildren have graduated from Northwestern, and one is a current student.

Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center

The new biomedical research center being built on Northwestern’s Chicago campus will be named the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center in honor of the couple’s generosity.

This state-of-the-art research center, comprising approximately 600,000 square feet, will have nine laboratory floors. It has been designed to accommodate an additional 15 laboratory floors in the future.

“This gift will be a catalyst for Northwestern Medicine’s mission to advance biomedical research informing patient care,” says Eric Neilson, vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean at Feinberg. “The gift will enable us both to build on established areas of strength and develop new areas of excellence and expertise.”


The Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center will provide new space for SQI investigators and collaborators as well as other biomedical scientists working in cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders and genetics.

“Regenerative medicine is both a great challenge and a great hope. We want to regenerate parts of the human body lost to trauma, aging, disease and genetic factors,” says Samuel I. Stupp ’77 PhD, who has led SQI since its founding in 2000. “We are seeking to go beyond the current boundaries of medical science and, in doing so, provide hope to those afflicted by these factors.”

The facility, located in the heart of Northwestern’s academic medical campus, will provide the opportunity for venture space, generate startup companies and promote scientific discovery that will save lives and improve health. Planning for the new building includes four floors for the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Simpson is a Northwestern Board of Trustees member and a 1958 alumnus of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and his son, Ted ’96 MMGT, is a 1996 graduate of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Lou Simpson has been on the Northwestern Board since 2006. He is chairman of SQ Advisors, an investment advisory firm located in Naples, Fla. Previously he was president and CEO of capital operations at Geico Corp.

Querrey is president of SQ Advisors. Previously she was president of Querrey Enterprises, a consulting firm. She currently serves on the board of directors and executive committee for both Artis Naples and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Kimberly and I are proud to support the leading-edge science that is occurring at Northwestern,” Simpson says. “The research that is being done now will have a real impact on people’s lives and give new hope to those who have been affected by injuries and disease.”