Gerhard R. (Gerry) Andlinger, an alumnus and noted international business executive, has made a gift to Princeton University to accelerate research on effective and sustainable solutions to problems of energy and the environment. Princeton will use the gift, which will total $100 million, to create the Gerhard R. Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment within the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The Andlinger Center will include a major state-of-the-art engineering research laboratory and several new faculty positions as well as endowed funds for innovative research, outreach and a visitors program. The gift provides the foundation for a series of investments the University plans to make in fundamental science, public policy and technological solutions related to sustainable energy production, climate change and related fields.
“As we witness the soaring global demand for energy and its profound environmental impact, we have a tremendous responsibility to turn our scientific knowledge into concerted action,” said President Shirley M. Tilghman. “With this visionary and transformative gift, Gerry Andlinger is positioning Princeton to bring its very significant strengths in science, engineering and public policy to bear on the challenge of developing technologies that will provide future generations with a healthy environment and sustainable sources of energy. I am enormously grateful to Gerry for his generosity and leadership.”
Andlinger, a member of the class of 1952, is chairman and founder of the private investment firm Andlinger & Co. He came to the United States in 1948 from his native Austria as the winner of a newspaper essay contest and then attended Princeton University on a scholarship.
After earning a degree from Harvard Business School and serving in the U.S. Army, Andlinger quickly became noted for his managerial expertise and turnaround skills while making philanthropy and service to others central to his life’s work. A longtime supporter of the University’s Annual Giving effort, he established the Gerhard R. Andlinger ’52 Professorship of Social Sciences in 1991. Today, that professorship is held by Robert Wuthnow, chair of the Department of Sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion.
In 2000, he made a landmark gift to Princeton creating the Andlinger Center for the Humanities, which encompasses Chancellor Green, East Pyne, the Joseph Henry House and the Scheide Caldwell House. Globally, he also has been a major contributor to cancer research, educational institutions and the arts.
“Princeton University already has substantial work under way on a variety of energy-related and environmental problems, from both the technological and public policy perspectives,” Andlinger said. “My hope in establishing this center is to bring those strengths together and focus them on finding ‘cleantech’ solutions to the most important problems facing our society today. The work of the center will help create a better world for our children and grandchildren, which I see as a personal as well as institutional responsibility.”
Research at the Andlinger Center will focus on making fundamental discoveries in engineering and applied science and moving those findings rapidly into the marketplace. Major areas of research will include improving energy efficiency and conservation; developing sustainable energy sources; and improving management of carbon, the component of fossil fuels that leads to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
In each of these areas, the center will build on Princeton’s strengths in fundamental engineering, particularly the engineering of materials, a field that combines physics and chemistry with nanotechnology to produce materials with entirely new properties. New kinds of semiconductors, for example, could allow solar cells to be produced inexpensively and in vast quantities. New types of ceramic coatings could allow much more efficient burning of existing fuels.
As provided for in the University’s recently published Campus Plan, the new, 110,000-square-foot Andlinger Laboratory will be located between the Engineering Quadrangle and Bowen Hall, home of the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials. It will include flexible lab and teaching spaces that foster collaborations across disciplines and with researchers from industry.
Andlinger’s gift includes a fund for innovative research that has potential for enormous impact in areas traditionally difficult to support through conventional federal research funds. Another fund will support conferences, workshops and lecture series as well as a robust program of visitors from academia, industry and government.
In addition to these technical areas, the center will support teaching and research that intersects with public policy, through the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and with the natural sciences, through the Princeton Environmental Institute.
“Princeton is already one of the leading institutions in the world for understanding the global climate and how it is changing,” said Stephen Pacala, director of the Princeton Environmental Institute. “With this generous gift, Gerry Andlinger is allowing us to take a dramatic step forward and couple that expertise with a greatly increased capacity in engineering to develop lasting solutions.”
The gift is part of the University’s recently launched fundraising campaign, “Aspire: A Plan for Princeton,” which includes a major emphasis on “Engineering and a Sustainable Society.”
“Gerry Andlinger’s extraordinary generosity will have a powerful impact on engineering at Princeton,” said H. Vincent Poor, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “The research it stimulates will not only help solve pressing societal problems but will also create a vibrant environment for teaching and learning, preparing new generations of leaders to think wisely and creatively about their future and the future of the planet.”