Butler alumnus donates $5M to university to revamp science facilities

June 8, 2017

A Butler University alumnus has given the institution $5 million to support the study of sciences.

The gift from Frank Levinson, an Indianapolis native and partner in San Mateo, California-based venture capital fund Phoenix Venture Partners, will be used to transform the university’s science teaching and laboratory spaces. The new facilities will be designed to complement those of local and global science and health/life science companies in an effort to collaborate with and provide talent to these firms.

Levinson graduated from Butler in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics. In 2006, Levinson received an honorary doctorate. Levinson’s mother, father and brother are also graduates of Butler.

“I have been so grateful for all the things that a Butler education has done for so many members of my family,” Levison said in a prepared statement. “Over many years, my family has seen how valuable and recognized this education has been. Looking forward, I know it takes a big commitment to stay on the cutting edge of the sciences. This gift aims to help keep this commitment high for many years to come.”

It’s the second major gift that Levinson, an entrepreneur an investor, has given his alma mater in the past decade. In 2007, he donated $10 million to help establish a partnership with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute that gives Butler students an opportunity to study in Panama. The gift also supported Butler’s participation in the Southern Association for Research in Astronomy, which allows students to view solar systems from various vantage points.

In addition, the 2007 gift helped Butler purchase its supercomputer known as “The Big Dawg.”

Levison co-founded Finisar Corp., a manufacturer of optical communication components and subsystems, in 1988 in California, and left the company in 2008. He is also a managing director of the early stage fund and incubator Small World Group.

“Frank has been a loyal and generous alumnus for many years, as well as a visionary who works to make our world better,” Butler President James M. Danko said in a prepared statement. “His financial support has made a transformational impact on the sciences at Butler and will continue to help us enhance Butler’s commitment to developing critical thinkers who will go on to make contributions to Indianapolis, the region, and the world.”


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