NB’s Maseeh Donates $24M to MIT

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Fariborz Maseeh of Newport Beach, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumnus, and his foundation have given MIT $24 million to expand its enrollment.

The gift from Maseeh and the Massiah Foundation will allow MIT to expand the undergraduate student body to 4,500 students, an increase of about 250 from today’s enrollment and consistent with its enrollment in the early- and mid-1990s, the institute said.

“Our world and especially our nation need more MIT graduates,” said Maseeh, who received a ScD degree in civil engineering from MIT in 1990. “We are losing the opportunity to train many qualified and bright minds due to MIT’s undergraduate capacity constraints.  I am honored to have a role in increasing the number of MIT graduates. The economic multiplier on this investment is very high.”

MIT President Susan Hockfield underscored the significance of this gift.

“Wherever I travel, I hear the same message: that the world needs more of what MIT graduates have to offer,” she said. “Thanks to Fariborz Maseeh’s foresight and generosity, we can open our doors to more superb students — increasing our capacity to tackle the world’s most urgent problems.”

In recognition of this transformational investment, the dormitory formerly known as both W1 and Ashdown House, near the heart of campus at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Memorial Drive, will be renamed Fariborz Maseeh Hall. The building is now undergoing extensive renovations.

Maseeh Hall, which will open in September 2011, will accommodate 460 students and will form an important new center of student life at the Institute. The renovation of this historic building — which opened as a grand hotel on the Charles River in 1901 — will add another undergraduate living and learning community to MIT’s residential options.

The renovated facility will include a dining hall designed to encourage informal interactions and to support a full meal plan for residents and dining for other members of the larger MIT community.  It will create a new gathering place near the geographic center of the campus.

Enrollment will increase over three years, starting with approximately 80 additional students in the next admitted class, in the fall of 2011. The offices of the Dean for Undergraduate Education Daniel Hastings and the Dean for Student Life Costantino Colombo are planning for this transition with the Academic Departments and Residential Life. “By providing proper planning and support, we anticipate a gradual and seamless return to former undergraduate enrollments,” said MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif.  “We will allocate additional resources to accommodate the added students.”

Maseeh was born in Tehran, Iran, and arrived in America at the age of 18.

He attended Portland State University, where he earned his bachelor of science degree in engineering with honors and a master’s degree in applied mathematics. Maseeh went on to earn a master of science degree in engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and then his ScD at MIT.

After receiving his doctorate and working for a year at a technology start-up in Silicon Valley, he founded IntelliSense in 1991. IntelliSense successfully created the first custom design, development and manufacturing MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) operation and became one of the world’s fastest-growing MEMS companies.

Maseeh now manages an investment firm, Picoco LLC, and the Massiah Foundation.



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