Around the Quads

A Surprise Donation

Dr. George D. Yancopoulos ’80, GSAS’86, PS’87

Dr. George D. Yancopoulos ’80, GSAS’86, PS’87, the 2019 Alexander Hamilton Medal recipient, wowed the crowd at the November 21 ceremony by announcing a $10 million commitment to create a “Beginner’s Mind” institute at Columbia. In addition to Yancopoulos’s gift, the dinner raised a record-breaking $2.35 million in support of the College, with $1.35 million specifically earmarked to support College students pursuing scientific research.

Beginner’s Mind, a concept often discussed by Dean James J. Valentini, speaks to the value of approaching people, interactions and ideas with an attitude of openness and eagerness, and with a lack of preconceptions.

“I believe that there is nothing more important than helping the next generation to face and conquer the truly existential threats, the challenge[s] of humankind,” said Yancopoulos, the co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, at the dinner. “Listening to the dean, it became so clear to me that Beginner’s Mind defines both the key to uniting humanity to do great things as well as the key to using science to address the most devastating threats to humanity, from disease to climate change.”