BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – Billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer, have given $30 million to a private graduate art school in suburban Detroit to help it accelerate its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
The funding also will help with long-term fiscal sustainability, the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills announced Tuesday.
“Our entire community will benefit from this. It’s not often that a gift like this comes around,” said Dominic DiMarco, president of Cranbrook Educational Community.
The donation to Cranbrook Academy of Art by the couple is believed to be the largest ever to a graduate art program in the United States.
“We can’t thank Jennifer and Dan Gilbert enough for this wonderful gift. You know it’s historic, honestly, it’s transformational,” said DiMarco.
In a statement Jennifer Gilbert said, “We know it’s not a silver bullet, but a step in the right direction. We need a purposeful commitment to welcome underrepresented voices into these studios and conversations.”
The gift will fund 20 full-tuition fellowships for students from various racial and ethnic groups through the Gilbert Fellows program. It will establish a permanent endowment and fund visiting faculty artists over the next five years with a focus on artists of color.
“Honestly, these students are going to go on and they’re going to be change makers in our world and become very important members of our community,” said DiMarco.
Ryan Tar-ek Genena is a Lebanese Egyptian Muslim American. The first year Cranbrook student says he was ecstatic when he found out.
“The donation is going to provide opportunity to a number of people who otherwise would not have the opportunity, and I consider myself one of those types of people,” said Genena.