University already planning uses of Siebel’s $100 million

By Brittany Abeijon

University alumnus Thomas Siebel announced his $100 million donation, the largest contribution ever made by a single donor to the University, on June 1. The donation is called the Thomas M. Siebel Fund for Excellence and is geared toward the funding and support of science and engineering programs on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

Siebel will write the $100 million gift into his will, but the University expects to begin using the money during his lifetime and gradually over the next 20 years, according to the Chicago Tribune.

At the time of the announcement, it was unclear exactly what the donation would fund, but now University officials have a better idea of what the $100 million will go toward.

Siebel is most interested in three areas: the idea of alternative energy to reduce dependence of carbon-producing fuels, the application of information technology to bioengineering and stem cell research. The Siebel Fund for Excellence may help fund a building to house this work, the News-Gazette reported.

The fund may also support research for faculty and students, gifted professorships or chairs, graduate fellowships and public policy development, not only at the University, but between it and other academic institutions, businesses or governmental units.

Siebel said his reason for contributing was simple.

“The work that has been done and the work that will be done at the University, and the graduates produced at the University of Illinois, [have] and will make the world a better place,” Siebel said during his speech at the kickoff for the Brilliant Futures campaign.

The Brilliant Futures campaign is the largest campaign in the recent history of the University of Illinois. The campaign goal is to raise $2.25 billion over a five-year period for students, faculty, research and the campus environment to be completed by 2011, according to the Brilliant Futures Web site.

The Urbana-Champaign campus has a goal of contributing $1.5 billion with the Chicago and Springfield campuses adding $650 million and $28 million, respectively. The combined goal for University administration and the UI Foundation is $72 million.

The Brilliant Future campaign has currently completed 45 percent of the goal and the campaign progress can be monitored at brilliantfutures.uiuc.edu.

After obtaining three degrees from the University, Siebel went on to donate a series of major gifts to his alma mater. According to the Chicago Tribune, Siebel’s donations to the University total $140 million, including the latest donation.

At the kickoff for the Brilliant Futures campaign, University chancellor Richard Herman spoke about the impact Siebel’s donation will have on future contributions.

“This is a gift that speaks to our aspirations to be second to none among public research universities. It is a gift that sets a high water mark for other donations,” Herman said.

In efforts to encourage prospective contributors to act, Siebel voiced several complex goals and future ambitions that the Brilliant Futures fund research may help to achieve.

“(We can) solve global warming, feed the hungry, house the homeless, cure cancer and bring world peace. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your chance,” Siebel said. “Please join me, join all of us in lending your generous support to this magnificent institution.”