MIT leaders aware of $850K given by Epstein
Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein donated a total of $850,000 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and top administrators were aware of the gifts for years, according to a report released by a law firm hired by the university to investigate its ties to the disgraced financier.
The f i r m, Goodwin Procter, found that Epstein made 10 donations from 2002 to 2017 and also visited the school nine times from 2013 to 2017. The school said last year that it had received roughly $800,000 over the past two decades from Epstein, who killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell in August while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges.
The university placed Seth Lloyd, a mechanical engineering professor who previously acknowledged a relationship with Epstein, on paid leave after the report found that he “purposefully failed” to inform MIT of multiple donations from Epstein, including a $60,000 gift deposited into a personal bank account and not reported to the school.
Lloyd did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The report found that three current and former MIT administrators learned of Epstein’s donations to the Media Lab in 2013, but “in the absence of any MIT policy regarding controversial gifts,” other donations were approved under “an informal framework” that the administrators developed.
One of the administrators who knew of Epstein’s criminal history, Israel Ruiz, is MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer. Last month, the university said he would step down this semester for a career outside academia. The others, R. Gregory Morgan and Jeffrey Newton, previously retired from the university.
Ruiz said in a statement that he was confident that the university’s leadership and broader community would “reflect on this episode and create an effective and successful path forward.”
Messages left for Morgan and Newton were not immediately returned.
The report said senior administrators had made “significant mistakes of judgment” in accepting donations from Epstein after his 2008 conviction on sex charges involving a minor in Florida but had not breached any university policy. The university did not announce any disciplinary action against administrators.
After news of Epstein’s relationship with the school became public last year, the university set up two faculty-led committees to work on policies for gifts and the vetting of donors.
“We must fix what needs fixing and improve what needs improving,” L. Rafael Reif, MIT’s president, said last week.
Reif acknowledged last year that he had signed a letter thanking Epstein for a donation in 2012, four years after the financier’s plea. The 61-page report cleared Reif of wrongdoing, saying that he was unaware that the school’s prestigious Media Lab was accepting donations and “had no role in approving” the funds, according to the university.
Students walk on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus.