Entrepreneur donates $60 million to Stanford

Jim Clark's gift will fund interdisciplinary research efforts at the university

Jim Clark, former Stanford University professor and founder of several well-known Silicon Valley companies, has donated $60 million to support interdisciplinary research at Stanford.

Clark announced the donation earlier this month at an opportune time and location: the 10th anniversary of the James H. Clark Center for Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, a building he funded with a $90 million gift in 1999. Bio-X, a cross-disciplinary research initiative that focuses on biology and medicine, is housed within the Clark Center.

"The research and technology that have been produced in the Clark Center over the past 10 years have exceeded my wildest expectations and, it is clear, will continue to make a big impact on human health going forward," Clark said in a press release. "My gift to Stanford is one of the best things I have ever done."

Clark's donation also coincided with another Bio-X achievement. The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to Michael Levitt, a Bio-X faculty member and professor in structural biology, the morning of Clark's announcement. Levitt was recognized for his interdisciplinary work, combining computer science, biology and quantum physics to model the chemical processes of molecules.

"Wednesday was a very joyous day at Stanford, one to celebrate and reflect upon the significant achievements that can result from interdisciplinary research," Stanford President John Hennessy stated in a press release. "Jim Clark is a superb engineer and a visionary entrepreneur who launched a series of companies that changed the way we live and work."

Clark, who comes from a physics and computer science background, taught electrical engineering at Stanford in the early 1980s. In 1982, he founded Silicon Graphics, a computing company that manufactures software and hardware for large-scale computers. He went on to found Netscape in the early 1990s and then Healtheon, an attempt to streamline the U.S. healthcare system, and MyCFO, a wealth-management company for wealthy Silicon Valley greats.

"My most interesting and profound insights have come when I changed fields and was able to look at things in new ways. Stanford's academic environment encourages this way of tackling problems and I look forward to the great innovations that it will produce," Clark stated in a press release.

Elena Kadvany


Like this comment
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

A perfect example of returning to the community what has been generated by a successful business man.

Like this comment
Posted by If only
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm

If only someone who gets rich like this would donate a huge sum to a school that REALLY needs it, like UC Davis, San Jose State, CSU East Bay. That would help,a lot more kids in a realistic way. Stanford has enough money already.

Like this comment
Posted by Nt an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 17, 2013 at 5:12 pm

If only palo alto could get its hands on that money-- they could hire consultants for the next century!'n maybe slick Greg Scharf could come up with a plan.

Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 17, 2013 at 7:19 pm

While I applaud his generosity, I'm with you in wishing some would give even a fraction of that amount to San Jose State, CSU East Bay, or some of the local community colleges. These institutions have been hit hard over the past decade and are barely getting by. Walk around the campuses and you will see that they can't afford to do even the basics, such as washing windows more than every 5 years. Their science facilities are, for the most part, very outdated, yet they are also training the scientists and science teachers most likely to stay in California and serve our communities. It's true they don't have as many brilliant students or exceptional science facilities as Stanford, but they educate the engineers, teachers, and business people that Silicon Valley can't do without. They also facilitate many, many more opportunities for first-generation students and students whose parents have no way of supporting their college education. Their dollars could make a real difference, but it's hard to get their attention.

Like this comment
Posted by If Only
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm

It is sickening how the people and institutions who do not need any more money get the biggest donations, while those in real financial danger get nothing. It is absolutely Unamerican! What ever happened to the American way of rooting for the underdog? Gone with the wind, I guess.

Like this comment
Posted by Thanks
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Clark's donation is funding advanced research that will change the lives of everyone.
He is not subsidizing undergraduate education - so complaints about not funding other colleges are misdirected.

Let's be thankful for his donation, which will hopefully result in more scientific breakthroughs that serve humankind.

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 8:45 am

I worked for Netscape 1995-99, and will never forget meeting Jim once in the Paris office. I told him how awesome the experience at Netscape had been, how I'd met my wife and now was expecting our first child, and that Netscape had been what made that all possible.

He then said, deadpan, "Why the F#$% would you want to get married and have a kid?"

[Portion removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Kay Syrah
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Regardless, Stanford is in no need of money in any way whatsoever. The money would be better spent on a public school or schools.

Like this comment
Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 18, 2013 at 6:28 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Mr. Clark's donation will fund some great research - and yes, as a former Netscaper, he's not the nicest guy. So what. He's doing good with his money.

Neighbor from East Meadow - your local community college, Foothill, has a beautiful new science building and is in the midst of updating its faciities, it is far from outdates.

As far as donating to the UC and CSU's - when Governor Brown starts prioritizing Universities instead of prisons, I'll pitch in. And our community colleges should charge tuition that is much more in line with other states, with waivers for low income students, a sliding scale of sorts. There are kids whose parents are multi-millionaires - literally - paying the miniscule tuition fees at Foothill. And not being asked to donate to the school Strange.

Like this comment
Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Hey, anonymous editor-- shouldn't you have stated that my post was removed because it referenced a deleted post? Why did it take you 11 hours to remove zaharis' vile post? How about some constancy in your editing? How about editors identifying who they are ( you guys are quite keen on asking unto use our real names)?

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 8:17 am

Some things never change in Palo Alto. Seems it is a rite of passage to criticize anyone who is wealthy and/or how they choose to donate their good fortune. The phrase "thank you" apparently doesn't exist.

Like this comment
Posted by Jim Hols
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Why must people take a negative view and complain about a $60M donation to Stanford. If you want to donate to San Jose State or Davis, please do.

By the way, Stanford gets this money because so many of the alumni from Stanford have been exceptionally successful. What's wrong with donating back to a schools that gets results.

Thanks Jim Clark.

Like this comment
Posted by Edgar poet
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 19, 2013 at 9:46 pm

This is the United States of America where people are supposed to
have freedoms, but I have found that to be a lie. People are supposed to
have equal educational opportunity, yet those few from wealthy families
who are fortunate to attend Stanford will always have the golden spoon
in hand through life.
The others (like me) who could only afford to attend CSU and graduated
with a toilet paper degree don't have it so good.
I don't see anything wrong with commenting that the wealth should be spread around a bit to ensure more equal opportunity in education.

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I went to a UC school, not that much more expensive than a CSU. I don't buy your analogy about the value of your degree at all. It's what you do with it that matters. You can earn a Stanford degree and end up driving a truck if you don't have the motivation and initiative to do something productive in life.

Not sure where it is written that beyond the 12th grade that we are supposed to have equal education. At some point you have to academically differentiate yourself. And as far as Stanford goes, anyone who is accepted and has a family income under $100K may attend the university for free.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Burger chain Shake Shack to open in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 2,844 views

Eat, Surf, Love
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,047 views

Couples: So You Married Mom or Dad . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 992 views

The Cost of Service
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 663 views