2 couples give total of $10 million to McCormick

Amanda Gilbert, Summer Reporter

Two couples including Northwestern alumni have donated a total of $10 million to the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, the University announced Thursday.

Peter Barris (McCormick ’74) and David Sachs (McCormick ’81), both executives of investment companies, each gave $5 million to support new professorships in McCormick’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences.

Although both gifts were given this summer, they were independent donations provided by each family, Barris said.

“David and I certainly know each other from our work on the Board of Trustees and share a love for McCormick and for Northwestern, but we did not collaborate on our gift,” Barris said.

He said there has been an increasing interest in computer science courses at NU, and the number of computer science majors has doubled in the past five years.

New programs in other schools also involve advanced computer skills. For example, McCormick professors taught a course at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and went on to start a company called Narrative Science, which uses computer programs to turn data into articles, some of which have been published by Forbes.

“Computers are pervasive in every aspect of society and our daily lives,” Barris said. “At one level, it is my firm belief that every student at Northwestern, regardless of major, can benefit from some exposure to computer science. “

Barry Nelson, chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, said both donations will help NU pursue the best faculty. He said Sachs had a particular interest in industrial engineering research.

A previous gift by Sachs and his wife helped create McCormick’s Humanitarian Logistics program, Nelson said. The success of that program inspired the couple to donate again.

“These are substantial gifts that will have significant impact,” Nelson said. “They will allows us to do even more outreach and research on societal problems.”

Summer reporter Amanda Gilbert can be reached at [email protected]northwestern.edu. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/amandadance5.