FAS receives gift to bolster arts, humanities, and strengthen financial aid

Harvard announced today that Joseph Y. Bae ’94 and Janice Y. K. Lee ’94 have made a $20 million gift to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Their generosity will endow the inaugural Bae Family Dean of Arts and Humanities and support undergraduate financial aid, helping ensure the University can continue to attract talented students from all backgrounds.

“Joe Bae and Janice Lee are eloquent advocates for higher education and devoted citizens of the University,” said interim President Alan Garber. “This new gift will advance arts and humanities scholarship at Harvard and broaden financial support for our undergraduate students — two aims that are near to Joe and Janice’s hearts. I am, as always, deeply grateful for their generosity, which is surpassed only by the time and effort they have dedicated to help ensure our continued academic excellence.”

The new gift strengthens 30 years of support the couple have shown Harvard since their first contributions as undergraduates to their own Senior Gift campaign. Bae, who became a fellow at Harvard College this year, and Lee have been two of Harvard’s most engaged alumni leaders. Both serve on the FAS Dean’s Council, the University’s Global Advisory Council, the FAS Committee on Financial Aid, and as current co-chairs for the Class of 1994 Gift Committee.

In 2021, Bae and Lee spearheaded a philanthropic drive to support an FAS initiative in Asian American studies scholarship and education. As part of that effort, they endowed the Bae Family Professorships of Government and of History, now held by Taeku Lee and Erika Lee, respectively. In 2015, the couple established the Joseph Y. Bae and Janice Lee Arts Lectureship in creative writing, currently held by Claire Messud. As undergraduates, Bae concentrated in social studies, and Lee studied English. Lee has since written and published two best-selling novels.

“Joe and Janice have, again and again, shown the power of investing in people to drive Harvard’s mission forward,” said Hopi Hoekstra, Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS. “And their support couldn’t come at a better time for the Division of the Arts and Humanities. As Sean Kelly begins his tenure as the new divisional dean this July, he will have the resources to advance a bold and affirmative vision for the disciplines at the historic heart of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. And their support for Harvard’s long-standing commitment to financial aid means we can continue to recruit the most promising students from around the world, regardless of their ability to pay. Bringing extraordinary people together and giving them the resources to do their best work is what sets Harvard apart.”

This weekend, Bae and Lee will celebrate their 30th reunion on campus with hundreds of classmates, having helped raise $140 million to date and engage seven new Class of 1994 co-chairs. With a total of 25 co-chairs who have made exceptionally generous gifts, the class is on track to earn a place in the Harvard College Fund record books.

“We are thrilled to continue our support of Harvard in the important areas of financial aid and the humanities, both of which are critical to the University’s long-term success as an academic leader in the world. Harvard has made a tremendous impact in our lives, and it is a privilege to support the FAS’s key priorities,” Bae and Lee said.

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