News and analysis
February 06, 2012

No. 33 (tied): Gustave M. and Rita E. Hauser

Amount donated in 2011: $40-million

Beneficiary: Harvard University

Donors’ background: Mr. Hauser, 82, is the chief executive of a private investment and operating company that bears his name. It focuses on cable television and international-satellite and other electronic communications. He previously served as the chief executive of Warner Cable Communications. Ms. Hauser, 77, is a lawyer.

The couple pledged $40-million to help Harvard University make teaching innovations. In an interview with The Chronicle, Mr. Hauser said the gift came out of his work with nonprofits to help them take advantage of new technologies. He said he wanted Harvard to take a “revolutionary look at teaching and learning and new concepts, many of which are technological, like the use of video,” he said. “People can now talk to each other around the world or teach each other around the world using video. There are some fundamental changes coming.”

He said another motivation was the commitment Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, has shown toward improving teaching.

Mr. Hauser hopes that such efforts will enable students in the developing world to gain online access to Harvard professors and classes.

He added that the institute he and his wife established at the university in 1997, the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, was integral to how the gift came about. “I started a while ago to try and link our Center for Nonprofit Organizations with China, because I was setting up a program to exchange knowledge on philanthropy,” he said. That effort, he said, “really took us down a road of looking far more widely than just linking Harvard and China.”

The Hausers both graduated from Harvard Law School, he in 1953, she in 1958.

—Caroline Bermudez

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2011