Gustave and Rita Hauser: Donors Who Care Deeply About Education

The benefactors who launched the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching

Rita and Gustave Hauser

Main Article: A Landmark Gift for


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Gustave Hauser, a cable-television pioneer (he was chairman and CEO of Warner Cable Communications, and is credited with innovations including pay-per-view, Nickelodeon, MTV, and the Movie Channel), and Rita Hauser (a past senior partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and board member and chair of many international humanitarian and research organizations, as well as cultural institutions such as Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic Society)—who have given $40 million to launch the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching, the University announced today—have long been leading Harvard philanthropists.

During the University Campaign—Harvard’s last overall fundraising drive, which concluded in 1999, having raised more than $2.6 billion—Rita Hauser served as one of seven national campaign chairs, and both were members of the campaign executive committee.

Harvard Law School’s Hauser Hall, built in the mid 1990s to provide much-needed faculty offices, bears its benefactors’ name. Similarly, the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, based at the Kennedy School, was launched with their support in 1997. Rita Hauser was recognized with a Harvard Medal at Commencement in 1999; her citation read, “Caring deeply about education, the world of nonprofits, and Harvard University, you are a dynamic inspiration to us all, conscious of the need to challenge and to lead.”

The couple have also played a continuing role at the law school, with Rita Hauser serving on the dean’s advisory council and remaining actively engaged with the subsequent capital campaign there. In 2006, they endowed the Rita E. Hauser professorship of human rights and humanitarian law, now held by Gabriella Blum. (The inaugural holder of the chair, Ryan Goodman, is now Ehrenkranz professor of law at NYU where, coincidentally, the Hausers created the Hauser Global Law Program; it brings law professors and students from around the world to NYU to promote transnational and international teaching, scholarship, and exchanges.) At Harvard, they also endowed the directorship of the University Committee on Human Rights.

Read more about past and present work and discussion, at Harvard and beyond, on pedagogy, evaluation of student learning, and related subjects

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