European Institute Renamed in Recognition of Blinken Gifts

In recognition of the generosity of Ambassador Donald and Vera Blinken, Columbia University has renamed its European Institute as the Donald and Vera Blinken European Institute. The Blinkens’ gifts to European Studies at the University include their recently committed planned gift.

Founded in 1948, the Blinken European Institute is the oldest university center in the United States dedicated to the study of Europe. The Institute, currently led by Victoria de Grazia, Moore Collegiate Professor of History, carries out its mission to promote European studies by conducting its own agenda-setting research projects, promoting teaching, scholarly debates, and public events related to Europe, and hosting scholars and practitioners with European expertise.

Columbia University has announced the renaming of its European Institute — as the Donald and Vera Blinken European Institute — to recognize the generosity of Ambassador Donald Blinken and Vera Blinken, whose gifts include a recent $15 million bequest on behalf of European studies.  

When the bequest is realized, the endowment will be dedicated to launching new programming in European studies and public diplomacy, partnering with Columbia’s global initiatives around the world, and providing funding for research, teaching, and public outreach related to the Blinken Institute’s mission, to develop with depth and historical sweep the American-European dialogue around major contemporary issues and foster dedication to public service. It will thus build on the significant gifts that the Blinken family is already making to European studies at Columbia, notably, the annual Vera and Donald Blinken Lecture, whose speakers have included Samantha Power, Joseph Biden, and Richard Holbrooke.

Donald M. Blinken, the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 1994 to 1998, graduated from Harvard and co-founded E.M. Warburg, Pincus & Co. In addition to chairing the State University of New York Board of Trustees from 1978-1990, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of the New York Philharmonic, the Council of American Ambassadors, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, the Project on Ethnic Relations, and Central European University in Budapest. Vera Blinken, a native of Hungary and a graduate of Vassar College, served as Special Assistant for the Arts and Cultural Affairs to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, founded in 1996 PRIMAVERA, the first mobile breast cancer screening program in Central and Eastern Europe, and in 2002, was awarded the Middle Cross of the Republic of Hungary for services to the Hungarian people. In 2009, with her husband, she co-authored Vera and the Ambassador, a memoir about their diplomatic mission to Hungary from 1994 to 1997.

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