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Jan 09, 2015 02:16 PM EST

MIT Receives $118M Gift to Advance Sustainable Real Estate Development

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has received one of the largest gifts in its history to establish a real estate entrepreneurship lab that will advance socially responsible and sustainable real estate development, school officials announced Thursday.

Alumnus Samuel Tak Lee '62 has donated $118 Million gift to MIT to establish the Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab, which will be housed in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and the Center for Real Estate. The new lab will promote social responsibility among entrepreneurs and academics in the real estate profession worldwide, with a particular focus on China.

"With this gift, Sam Lee aims to tap the transformative power of real estate to shape the built environment, and thereby to shape society and culture, to enrich our shared civic life, to increase our harmony with nature - in short, to make a significant positive impact on the world," MIT President Rafael Reif said. "As MIT strives to work for the betterment of humankind, Sam's generosity dramatically increases our capacity to create and inspire far-reaching positive change. We are deeply grateful for the vision and partnership of the Lee family, and for the trust they have placed in MIT."

Lee said his gift was motivated by a desire to design a program with MIT that tightly ties the study of real estate to 21st-century realities such as land reform, environmental challenges, burgeoning populations, and an evolving global economy.

"This is a period of tremendous change and opportunity for entrepreneurs in China and around the world," Lee said. "By cultivating a long-term perspective, real estate professionals can create even greater value for themselves and for society based on responsible, sustainable strategies. I am eager to connect ambitious, talented students with the skills and knowledge that will help them succeed."

MIT is a pioneer in the study of real estate, becoming the first university to offer a Master of Science degree in real estate development in 1983.

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