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Grainger Foundation gives $100 million to U. of I.

Updated: March 1, 2013 7:49PM

The University of Illinois’ College of Engineering is set to receive a $100 million gift — tying the largest gift to any public institution in the current academic year, the university announced Monday.

The gift, the largest the engineering school has ever received, comes from the Grainger Foundation, a private foundation based in Lake Forest and a longtime supporter of the university.

“We are tremendously grateful for this extraordinary gift from the Grainger Foundation, which is an investment in the future of engineering, the future of our engineering faculty and students, and, indeed, an investment in the campus as a whole,” said U. of I. Chancellor Phyllis Wise in a written statement. “This transformative gift will ensure a chain reaction of possibilities that will fortify the campus as a preeminent, globally-recognized institution.”

A “substantial” portion of the grant will be used to create an endowment for engineering chairs and professorships to “attract and retain renowned scholars,” according to the university.

The university’s graduate and undergraduate engineering programs are both ranked fifth in the nation, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Late last year, UCLA announced that entertainment mogul David Geffen had made a pledge of $100 million to the university’s medical school.

The contribution is made in memory of William W. Grainger, a 1919 Illinois graduate in electrical engineering and the founder of W.W. Grainger Inc., which sells industrial and commercial equipment and supplies.

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