The University of Chicago News Office
June 28, 2000 Press Contact: Julia Morse
(773) 702-8359

Noted philanthropist pledges $20 million to the University of Chicago

Max Palevsky, noted art collector, campaign finance reform activist and recently retired director emeritus of Intel Corporation, has pledged $20 million to the University of Chicago to enhance the quality of residential life on campus. In recognition of his pledge, the University will name its new residence halls the Max Palevsky Residential Commons.

“Max Palevsky’s generous commitment to the University will make an enormous difference to generations of our students, enhancing their world-class education with an equally fulfilling residential life at the heart of campus,” said University of Chicago President Hugo Sonnenschein. “It is an honor to show our lasting gratitude to Max, a friend, alumnus and former trustee who exemplifies the intellectual values of our university.”

The Max Palevsky Residential Commons will consist of three buildings designed by internationally known architect Ricardo Legorreta, who this spring was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. Legorreta’s most recognized works include the San Antonio Public Library and the Pershing Square city park in Los Angeles.

The Palevsky Commons will house a foreign language media center, computer rooms, soundproof music practice rooms and accommodations for more than 700 students. The University plans to open the buildings in the fall of 2001.

“For most students, college is the first time they’ve lived away from home,” said Palevsky. “In this society there often are not sufficient structures for young people, and I trust it will be an important thing to live in a structured, intellectual community. I’m very happy to be able to make that possible for future generations of University of Chicago students.”

Palevsky, a 1948 graduate who earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and philosophy, added that his gift allows him “to show my appreciation for what the University of Chicago did for me. It was the crucial experience of my life.”

Palevsky credits the University’s liberal arts education for giving him a broader world perspective. “I think dealing with business and political issues requires the understanding of much more than just the underlying economics and related facts. It requires some understanding of the world, history and human nature,” said Palevsky. “So whatever particular issue I might have dealt with in business, I always felt I had an advantage because I’d been given a broader understanding of the world than most people receive. And it made my life so much richer in other ways.”

Palevsky has been a pioneer investor in the high-tech industry since the 1950s and was one of the first major investors in Intel Corporation. He was a founder and served as director of Intel from 1968 until his retirement last April.

Early in his career, Palevsky left Packard Bell and, along with 11 other scientists, founded Scientific Data Corporation in 1961. According to Financial World magazine, as president of the corporation, Palevsky’s ability to identify SDC’s market and assemble a cadre of scientific researchers earned him status as a “founding genius.” In order to diversify, Xerox Corporation bought the company in 1969 for more than $900 million. Palevsky eventually left Xerox and went on to serve as chairman of Silicon Systems and then Daisy Systems Corporation.

A California resident, Palevsky has been active in California politics for decades. He organized the McGovern presidential campaign and ran Tom Bradley’s first successful campaign for Los Angeles Mayor. He recently made headlines after donating $1 million in support of Proposition 25, a campaign finance reform initiative that was opposed by his longtime Democratic ally Governor Gray Davis. As reported in Newsweek magazine, Palevsky said, “I am making this million-dollar contribution in hopes that I will never again legally be allowed to write huge checks to California political candidates.”

In addition to his interest in politics, Palevsky is an avid art collector. He established the Palevsky Design Pavilion at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. He built an important Arts & Crafts collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and he also donated $1 million to establish the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

Palevsky was first introduced to the University during World War II, when he attended meteorological school there as an officer in the U.S. Army. After the war, he decided to enroll at the University of Chicago because he was drawn to an environment that “gave me an enthusiasm for all that is out there in the world.”

Palevsky has maintained a close relationship with the University since graduating in 1948. He established the Palevsky Professorship in History and Civilization in 1972 and the Palevsky Faculty Fund in 1996. His generous contributions to student life also include a gift that allowed the University to build the Max Palevsky Cinema, a campus movie theater and auditorium run by Documentary Films Group, the longest-running student film organization in the country. Palevsky served as a University trustee from 1972 to 1982.

The Max Palevsky Residential Commons is part of the University’s $500 million campus master plan to substantially improve the University’s facilities in the coming decade. A $53 million project, the brick residential commons will form quadrangles that create a gentle transition from the Gothic, gray-limestone University buildings to the brick residential buildings of the surrounding neighborhood. Legorreta’s signature use of color and light will highlight the common areas inside and outside each building.

Among the additional projects are the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center and adjoining parking structure designed by Cesar Pelli, whose projects include the tallest building in the world, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; a new Graduate School of Business designed by Rafael Vinoly; the University Press Building, which will open next winter; an enhancement of the Regenstein Library to accommodate 1.2 million more books as well as technological advances; expansion and improvement of the Oriental Institute Museum; the Interdivisional Research Building, which will provide state-of-the-art laboratories for joint research projects crossing the boundary between the physical and biological sciences; and a permanent skating rink and warming house that will grace the Midway Plaisance, which was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1871.

The University of Chicago’s 203-acre campus is one of the most distinct and attractive among the world’s universities. Late English Gothic style set the architectural tone for the design and development of the campus. The tree-shaded quadrangles are anchored by Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, with its 207-foot tower, and the Joseph Regenstein Library, one of the largest academic libraries in the United States.

For more information about the University’s campus master plan, see
Last modified at 11:05 AM CST on Wednesday, June 28, 2000.

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