Last month it was announced that the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard had received yet another substantial gift – $650 million to be exact – from Theodore (Ted) Stanley. Stanley and his wife have been frequent donors to the Institute and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research named in their honor, is a tribute to that fact. This latest gift is generous, even within that context – being one of the largest private gifts ever made towards scientific research.
So why have the Stanleys been so generous towards Broad?
It all starts with their son. Ten years ago Jonathan Stanley was diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder. Though it took several years, Jonathan Stanley eventually came to control his illness through medication. The experience has clearly marked the entire family who, in addition to their frequent donations to mental illness research, are also responsible for starting the Stanley Medical Research Institute.
However though the Stanleys had a history of supporting mental illness facilities with small donations through their foundation it was not until they met Edward Scolnick that their giving took on such vast heights. Scolnick convinced the couple that it would take much larger sums to truly make a difference. The struck a deal that involved the Stanleys donating $100m over 10 years – and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research was born with Edward Scolnick as its director.
In the end, it all comes down to one relationship.
This story reveals just how powerful a personal relationship can be. The Stanleys were philanthropists and they had a cause they cared about due to their personal experience. But their major giving only began after they struck up a relationship with one man – Edward Scolnick. It is thus not surprising that the Broad Institute continues to enjoy the patronage of Ted Stanley and his wife, whilst their long-time friend Scolnick remains a prominent figure there.