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Posted Jan 26, 2011

Center for Brazilian Studies receives a major grant from Jorge Paulo Lemann

Jorge Paulo Lemann, a noted Brazilian entrepreneur, has donated $500,000 to Columbia’s Center for Brazilian Studies. This grant, the largest single gift ever received by the Center, will be disbursed in over a five-year time-frame and will be instrumental in expanding the Center’s core activities. These include many initiatives by the Center to strengthen the ties between Brazil and Columbia such as the Ruth Cardoso Visiting Professorship and Columbia faculty collaborative research with Brazilian counterparts. In addition, the Lemann gift will help the Center to develop new graduate and undergraduate courses on Brazilian topics, often in collaboration with Brazilian educational institutions.  The Center will be able to scale up its already successful speaker programs which bring many Brazilian leaders to the Columbia campus each year plus provide support to organize more conferences and meetings on research issues of great importance to Brazil in collaboration with Brazilian counterparts.  The grant will permit the development of closer institutional ties with Brazilian universities and research organizations as well as closer interaction with the Brazilian studies centers at Harvard and the University of Illinois which have also benefited in the past from the generosity of Jorge Paulo Lemann.

Jorge Paulo Lemann was born in Brazil and received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1961, and later his MBA from Harvard. In 1971, Lemann and three partners founded the Brazilian investment banking firm Banco Garantia, which Lemann helped build into one of Brazil’s most prestigious and innovative investment banks.

Lemann and his partners later purchased control of a Brazilian brewery that eventually became AmBev. In 2004, AmBev merged with Interbrew of Belgium. The new company, InBev, is now one of the world’s largest beverage producers. In November 2008, shareholders of Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Budweiser and many other beverages, approved a $52 billion sale to InBev, which created the world’s largest brewer.  Since then, Lemann has launched other efforts to expand his investments into food services and other productive areas of the Brazilian and global economies.  Lemann and his partners are among Brazil’s most active philanthropists with a decades-long record of grants intended to improve education in Brazil and to form the next generation of Brazilian leaders.

The Center for Brazilian Studies, housed within the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS), serves as a key focal point for students and faculty with an interest in Brazil. Established in 2001 by Columbia professors Albert Fishlow and Alfred Stepan, the Center offers scholars a place to pursue their research on Brazil, and provides a regular forum for lectures and conferences by visiting Brazilian government officials, business leaders, politicians, and representatives of civil society.

ILAS is one of the nation’s foremost centers in the field. The Institute’s primary mission is to bring together and provide resources for Columbia faculty, students and visiting scholars, recognizing the diversity of their interests and approaches, while strengthening their links with Latin America and with communities of Latin American origin in the United States. Columbia University has established its first interdisciplinary post-graduate program in Latin American and Caribbean studies, offered under the auspices of ILAS.