Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger Donates $40M to Create Residences at the Huntington

The billionaire philanthropist is once again using his wealth to build educational housing—this time for visiting scholars.

Charlie Munger has long been known as Warren Buffett’s right-hand man. He not only shares Buffett’s approach to long-term investing and his tendency to crack jokes during shareholder meetings. Like the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) CEO, Munger is also a major philanthropist.

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Charlie Munger at the 2019 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting. Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

The billionaire’s latest gift will be funneled to the Huntington Library, Museum and Botanical Gardens, a cultural and research institution in San Marino, California. Earlier this month, Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, donated $40 million worth of company shares to the center, according to an SEC filing.

“It will be a transformative new chapter for the Huntington,” Susan Turner-Lowe, a spokesperson for the institution, told Observer. The funds will be used to create more than 30 temporary residences for visiting scholars, a project Turner-Lowe expects will be completed in the next three years or so. “There’s just so little out there for humanities researchers generally,” she said. “We have long wanted a place where they could be together in community.”

This isn’t the first time Munger has given money to the Huntington. In 2013, his $32 million donation funded a new visitor center at the institution. Alongside his late wife Nancy, who was a trustee at the Huntington, he also helped fund a humanities research center that opened in 2004.

Such philanthropy is not unusual for Berkshire Hathaway executives—Buffett, who annually funds five nonprofits including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, gave away $4.6 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares earlier this year, bringing his total giving to more than $50 billion. Alongside Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, he is also co-founder of the Giving Pledge, a campaign urging the wealthy to give half their wealth to charity.

SEE ALSO: The Young Billionaires Who’ve Pledged Away Their Wealth

Munger is not a signee of the Giving Pledge, having already passed down more than half of his wealth to his children. But that hasn’t stopped the 99-year-old, who currently has an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, from becoming a significant benefactor to various educational institutions.

His donations have primarily gone to schools like the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Alongside monetary gifts including a $65 million donation in 2014 to the school’s theoretical physics research institute, Munger has donated an 1,800-acre ranch valued at $70 million to the university. He’s also given to his alma mater Harvard Law School, donating $7.5 million in 2018, in addition to a donation of $43.5 million to Stanford in 2004.

Several California schools, such as the Polytechnic School in Pasadena and the Marlborough School and Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, have benefited from Munger’s generous multi-million-dollar donations. The billionaire has also funded healthcare institutions like the Good Samaritan Hospital.

Munger’s interest in designing dorms

Much of Munger’s philanthropy focuses on the creation of dorm residences for undergraduate or graduate students. The investor himself is often heavily involved in the design process. Back in 2007, he gave $3 million for public lighting at the University of Michigan, where he briefly studied mathematics as an undergraduate, followed by a $20 million donation in 2011 to renovate one of its housing complexes.

Two years later, he embarked on an even more ambitious project, pledging $110 million to create a new residence center at the school. Completed in 2015 after strong design input from Munger, the Munger Graduate Residence at the University of Michigan contains 600 bedrooms, the majority of which are windowless.

A controversial lack of windows was also part of Munger’s dorm designs for UCSB when he pledged $200 million to improve the school’s undergraduate housing in 2016. But the project, which replaced windows with artificial lighting in most of the planned 4,500 rooms, never came to fruition.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger Donates $40M to Create Residences at the Huntington