* Harvard’s endowment fund manager, Mohamed A. El-Erian, announced unexpectedly that he will return in January to the Pacific Investment Management Company, where he has named managing director, co-chief executive and co-chief investment officer, the New York Times reported Sept. 12. Harvard’s loss is emblematic of difficulties in retaining university investment officers, more than four in 10 of whom left their jobs in 2005 and 2006, the Times reported published Sept. 14.
* Taiwanese technology mogul Terry Gou, chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., the world’s largest contract electronics manager, has pledged $454 million to National Taiwan University to fund a cancer facility and research, IDG News Service reported Sept. 5.
* Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, will lead a Save the Children campaign to make preventable childhood death a top issue for Americans and federal budget-makers, the New York Times reported Sept. 7. Frist, a surgeon, already heads a related project with another former majority leader, Democrat Tom Daschle of South Dakota — the One Vote ’08 campaign, founded by Bono’s One Campaign, to call presidential candidates’ attention to international development issues.
* James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, did not violate his conservative media organization’s tax-exempt status by endorsing Republican candidates in 2004, the IRS ruled after a year-long audit, the Denver Post reported Sept. 11. According the IRS, Dobson acted as an individual and thus his ministry remains within the bounds of its 501(c)3 tax status, which requires it to refrain from actively participating in political campaigns.
* Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop and a leading British entrepreneur, died of a brain hemorrhage Sept. 10 at age 64, The Washington Post reported Sept. 11. Roddick’s Body Shop, founded in 1976, revolutionized the beauty industry with its cruelty-free cosmetics and its founder’s activism.
* The Chronicle of Philanthropy says celebrity philanthropy should receive greater media skepticism, the New York Times reported Sept. 10. Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer suggests the credibility and effectiveness of celebrity giving should be taken into account by separating altruism from opportunistic publicity mongering in mainstream media accounts.
* Randolph College’s attempt sell artwork purchased using a donation from the college’s first art professor, the late Louise Jordan Smith, has been challenged by her relatives, the Associated Press reported Sept. 11. The sale was intended to bolster an ailing endowment at the former women’s college, Randolph Macon, which became coeducational last fall in hopes of easing its financial situation.
* The Belo Foundation has pledged $15 million to establish The Belo Center for New Media at the University of Texas at Austin, the Houston Chronicle reportedSept. 6.The Dallas-based foundation’s gift also will endow two non-tenured teaching positionsin the department of English and School of Journalismfor junior faculty and doctoral candidates.
* Retired Boston developer Norman B. Leventhal has endowed the Boston Public Library’s map center with a gift of $10 million, the library’s largest ever, the Boston Globe reported Sept 6. Leventhal, who founded the center in cooperation with library executives three years ago, also will place 178 of his most valuable historic maps on long-term loan at the center.
* The Arizona State University Art Museum is facing scrutiny over an arrangement with long-time museum patron Stephane Janssen, whose donations were used to purchase art from the his own company, Art Start, The Arizona Republic reported Sept. 9. Auditors suspect that in at least one case, the museum may have paid more than market value, which allowed Janssen to receive income-tax deductions for what was possibly an overvalued gift.