Levinson received his doctorate in astronomy from the university in 1980.
The gift will be divided evenly between the department of astronomy and a new interdisciplinary center that will study religion and democracy.
The Department of Astronomy will use its $10 million gift for two main purposes — to join a partnership with other universities in a large optical telescope project, and to create a team of telescope designers. The department will need to raise an additional $6-8 million to meet all of its goals.
The remaining $10 million will support the new Center for Religion and Democracy, a nonpartisan research center that will explore the relationship between religion and democratic society.
Faculty, graduate students and undergraduates from various disciplines will examine the role religion plays in the formation of democratic ideals, institutions and practices.