Gerhard R. Andlinger, a financier who immigrated from Austria as a result of winning a newspaper essay contest, has pledged a gift of $100 million to Princeton University to fund energy and climate research.

Andlinger, a 1952 Princeton alumnus who attended the university on a scholarship, is chairman of Andlinger & Company, a private investment firm with headquarters in Tarrytown, New York. The company, founded in 1976, invests in companies and technologies in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation, emission reduction, and waste recovery.

In announcing the gift on July 1, the university said that it will be used to build the Gerhard R. Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment within the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Several new faculty positions will be created, along with state-of-the-art labs, and a visitors center. The 110,000-square-foot Andlinger Laboratory will be located between the engineering quadrangle and Bowen Hall.

Princeton University president Shirley Tilghman termed the gift “visionary and transformative” and said in a prepared statement that it is positioning Princeton to bring its 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.”

The gift is expected to provide 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. 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 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.

Andlinger’s gift, among the three largest the university has ever received, is not his first. In 2000 he funded the Andlinger Center for the Humanities, which encompasses Chancellor Green, East Pyne, the Joseph Henry House, and the Scheide Caldwell House.

The philanthropist has also been a major contributor to cancer research, educational institutions, and the arts.

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