Rice University has announced a $50 million gift — the single largest gift in its history — from alumni L. John and Ann Howland Doerr through their family foundation to establish an institute that will work to maximize the leadership capabilities of Rice students.
The Doerr Institute for New Leaders will assess the strengths of each student and then work to develop his or her potential, with a focus on cultural and global diversity and inclusion, through a comprehensive, individualized four-year program that includes classroom instruction, real-world experience, and guidance from personal coaches. The effort will be led by Retired Brig. Gen. Tom Kolditz, who has headed leadership training programs at Yale University and West Point.
The Doerrs, both of whom hold bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Rice, previously gave $15 million in support of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership in 2009. They joined the Giving Pledge in 2010.
"Millennials want to see the big picture and their role in it, get frequent feedback and be empowered — not micromanaged," said John Doerr, co-founder of the NewSchools Venture Fund and a venture capitalist who has helped build companies such as Amazon, Google, and Twitter. "Now more than ever, the pressing problems of our nation and world need great teams and great leaders. Ideas are easy; executing those ideas with a well-led team is paramount. New leaders must be inclusive, self-aware, and great listeners who are attuned to the needs of their teams."
"Throughout our lives and on any given day we are both leaders and followers," said Ann Doerr, who forged a career in engineering and management at Intel and other tech firms and currently serves as board chair of Khan Academy. "The Doerr Institute's goal is to train each student to become an effective leader. A true leader needs the skills to evaluate the goal, understand its validity, succinctly articulate it, and then lead with deep compassion, moral integrity, and empathy."