Philanthropy studies at the university level just got a very prominent booster as one of the nation’s most prominent foundation leaders moves to academe.
Paul Brest, the former president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, who stepped down from that post last week, has been named faculty co-director of Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the university announced today.
Mr. Brest, who started out as an expert on constitutional law, and in later years has focused on decision-making and philanthropy, is no stranger to Stanford. He joined Stanford Law School in 1969 and served as dean of the school from 1987 to 1999. He left to lead the Hewlett Foundation in 2000.
He said in an interview with The Chronicle that he is joining the center so he can continue to be actively involved in writing about philanthropy and teaching the practice of it.
Mr. Brest, who is 72, said he is bringing to the center a study on impact investing that will examine how foundations and other donors can invest their portfolios in companies that make a difference.
Mr. Brest said he hoped he could bring new attention to philanthropy studies since he thinks it has not gotten the attention it deserves.
“Given the size of the nonprofit sector, it is important to our society both in terms of the number of jobs that exist in the sector, in terms of the contribution to GDP,” he noted, “and more fundamentally in terms of its contribution to the social life of the country.”