Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne, are pledging $50 million to five nonprofits this week, including a $5 million chunk to St. Lawrence University, from where Douglas graduated in 1939.
WWNY TV 7 reports that the donations will come through the Douglas Foundation and, in the case of St. Lawrence University, will be the largest endowed scholarship ever made. The money will go towards a scholarship started by the film legend at the University in 1999.
The Kirk Douglas Scholarship was set up to support students who represent diversity, have financial need and demonstrate excellence in academics and leadership. Previously only available to juniors and seniors, the premier scholarship will now be available to all four classes.
Kirk and Anne Douglas have lent extensive financial support to the actor’s old school; their latest donation takes their total contributions to St. Lawrence to almost $7.5 million. Back in 2008, the film icon said:
“I’m giving something back to the school, because I think every person should try to make the world better any way that they can.”
In a statement thanking the couple for their contribution, College President William L. Fox gushed:
“We deeply appreciate their dedication and generosity to the University and the opportunity their scholarship is providing for so many students.”
Kirk Douglas was named one of the 50 greatest screen legends of all time by the American Film Institute, and has appeared in more than 85 films down the decades, making his debut in 1946’s The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. He appeared in classics such as Spartacus, Gunfight at the OK Corral, Lust for Life and Lonely Are the Brave. In recognition of his glittering career, Douglas received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 and an honorary Academy Award in 1995.
Together with Anne Douglas, he founded the LA-based Douglas Foundation in 1964. The organisation primarily focuses on health and educational programs.