Important stimulus for research and teaching

Thanks to support from the Cooper family, ETH Zurich will be able to expand rese
Thanks to support from the Cooper family, ETH Zurich will be able to expand research into teaching and instruction in the coming years. Mixed reality technology is one of many approaches to be investigated. (Photograph: Future Learning Initiative)

In 2019, the ETH Foundation received some 120 million Swiss francs from private individuals, foundations and companies. Donations and bequests promote new stimulus for future teaching and for launching pioneering research projects.

In 2019, private individuals, foundations and companies again made a significant difference to ETH Zurich by donating some 120 million Swiss francs to the ETH Foundation. As the foundation’s annual report shows, of the additional funding received, 29 percent came from more than 3,000 private individuals, 29 percent from companies and 42 percent from other foundations or organisations.

Most private individuals donate during their lifetime, but an increasing number of people are now including the ETH Foundation in their wills: "Every single donation and bequest is driven by a personal story and the desire to make a difference," explains Donald Tillman, Managing Director of the ETH Foundation.

Research into teaching and instruction

The Cooper family was no exception. Donald C. Cooper was an Australian doctor who died in London in 1943 and whose uncle, Thomas, had founded Coopers Brewery in 1862. The former had a strong interest in the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, who taught at ETH between 1933 and 1941 and became a professor there in 1935. This led Cooper to write a testamentary disposition stating that he wanted to promote teaching and research in the field of psychology at ETH Zurich.

Working with the ETH Foundation, Cooper’s descendants last year examined various possibilities as to how the money from the fund could be used for future-oriented research and teaching at ETH in a way he would have wanted. Thanks to the generous support of Cooper and his family in South Australia, which amounts to around 25 million Swiss francs, research into teaching and instruction will now get an extra boost at ETH Zurich in the coming years. Specifically, the funding will go towards four professorships and the multidisciplinary Decision Science Laboratory at the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences and the Department of Computer Science. Given that several reforms to the curriculum are set to come into effect in the next few years, this support comes at exactly the right time for ETH Zurich.

Endowments and donations for rehab

Other donations also contributed significantly to advancing ETH’s strategic priorities last year. For example, the Werner Siemens Foundation supports the new Center for Digital Trust, where researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Bonn are working on a new security architecture for the internet that will allow digital data to be exchanged securely. Donations from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and numerous private individuals help finance a project to enable people with physical disabilities to participate independently in social activities through comprehensive rehabilitation.

Overcoming crises together

Donors and partners are extremely important for ETH Zurich in the current situation. Thanks to their support of the Corona Impulse Fund, measures and projects can be initiated quickly and flexibly: from introducing urgently needed measures, to providing immediate support for students in the form of additional grants and funding medium to long-term scientific efforts.

The ETH Foundation

The foundation brings together donors who have provided funding or left bequests to support teaching and research at the university, thus helping to find solutions to the great challenges of our time. Contributions - both large and small - from private individuals, companies and foundations pave the way for new projects that provide stimulus in pioneering fields.

The ETH Foundation’s latest annual report provides further insight into the funding ETH Zurich received in 2019: www.ethz-foundation.­ch/en/foun­dation/ann­ual-report

Felix Würsten