Sex offender Epstein gave $9 mn to Harvard University
Harvard University received nearly $9 million in donations from the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein before his 2008 guilty plea to crimes involving girls and young women, the institution's president Lawrence Bacow has said.
The university, however, rejected a proposed gift after his conviction, said Bacow. The largest of Epstein's gifts to the university was $6.5 million in 2003 to support the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics.
Other gifts totalled about $2.4 million. Epstein, 66, apparently committed suicide in New York jail awaiting trial earlier in August on charges that he abused underage girls. His arrest triggered a national examination of his position in an elite social circle of rich, powerful people across the arts, sciences and politics.
Epstein did not attend Harvard.
In a message to Harvard students and staff, Bacow, who took over as president in June, condemned Epstein's crimes as "repulsive and reprehensible" and said he "profoundly regrets Harvard's past association with him", media reports said.
"Epstein's behaviour, not just at Harvard, but elsewhere, raises significant questions about how institutions like ours review and vet donors," he said.
After a review of Harvard's relationship with Epstein ordered two weeks ago, Bacow said the university still had $186,000 in funds from the earlier donations, which will now be given to organizations that support victims of human trafficking and sexual assault.
Harvard's disclosure came a day after the university's newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, condemned the school for what it called a "deafening silence" on the matter.
"Harvard must further recognize that accepting a donation at a given point in time not only legitimates the donor's reputation, but also implicitly condones what they stand for in perpetuity, unless the university takes clear, decisive action to demonstrate the contrary," the Crimson's editorial board wrote.
Bacow, in his message, also noted that Harvard had recently learned that Stephen Kosslyn -- a former faculty member and a beneficiary of Epstein's philanthropy -- had designated Epstein as a visiting fellow in the psychology department in 2005.
"We are seeking to learn more about the nature of that appointment from Dr Kosslyn, who no longer works at the university," Bacow said.
Harvard isn't the only prestigious university facing the fallout of Epstein's philanthropy. In August, two prominent researchers quit Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab over revelations that the renowned technology research hub and its director took money from Epstein after he'd served time for his sex offences.
Amid a review of Epstein donations to MIT, the university's president Rafael Reif acknowledged on Thursday he apparently thanked Epstein in a note in 2012 in response to one donation. IANS