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Largest Gift in University of Maryland History Set to Transform Computer Science Education
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe Gives $31 Million
Dear University of Maryland community,
Today, the University announces the receipt of its largest gift ever by a single donor. It will catapult our top-15 computer science program to even greater national and international pre-eminence. It will spark innovation and entrepreneurship across the campus and catalyze new economic development in the state.
The gift began after a tragedy and will end in a living memorial. It demonstrates the impact of friendship, teamwork, and family—qualities that ultimately benefit our students and faculty.
In 1997, three freshmen—Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov, and Andrew Reisse—met on the first day they moved into Denton Hall. They bonded with a shared passion to learn, innovate, and create. Thus began a collaboration that over the years led to several winning start-ups.
In 2012, they founded Oculus VR to develop the potential of virtual reality. Their amazing VR technology generated excitement and investment. Facebook subsequently acquired the start-up, betting that someday this technology would be used by one billion people to see, communicate, and interact in new (virtual) ways.
Tragically, Andrew did not live to see all this. A year ago, he was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Brendan and Michael led the campaign to create an endowed scholarship at UMD in his memory. Now—accompanied by their families and by Andrew's parents and his brother—they will pay homage to Andrew, when they gather in Denton Hall where their collaboration began 17 years ago.
Brendan and Michael turned their high tech success into a magnanimous gift, launching the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation and creating additional endowed scholarships for UMD students. Andrew's spirit lives on through their gift.
It will be a state-of-the-art facility for education, research, innovation, and teamwork. It will attract the best faculty and students in the country. They envision a place where persons from different academic areas—including design, art, behavioral and social sciences, engineering, business—collaborate in "hacker spaces." This is how Brendan, Michael, and Andrew pass on to the next generation their passion for learning, creativity, and start-ups. UMD could become the epicenter of tomorrow's virtual world.
Remarkably, these young innovators' philosophy is—in their words—"give while you live." Brendan's mother, Liz Iribe, who inspired her son to give back, herself made a generous gift to create endowed chairs in computer science.
I am deeply grateful to Brendan, Michael, and Liz for their vision and philanthropy. I thank the 40 computer science faculty members who made a significant collective contribution. Brendan's leadership gift of $31M, combined with the other gifts, total nearly $40 million of an overall project estimated at $140 million.
My appreciation and congratulations to the chair and faculty of computer science, the dean of CMNS, the vice president and staff of University Relations, and the provost for all their work on this project. Indeed, it takes a village to secure such a transformational gift and make it a (physical) reality.
Wallace D. Loh