Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative Launched at Colgate


Robert Hung Ngai Ho ’56 donated $15 million to science initiatives.

Wynter Schnell, Maroon-News Staff

Trustee Emeritus Robert Hung Ngai Ho ’56, H’11 and his family donated $15 million to the University, which will fund the establishment of the Robert Hung Ngai Ho Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative at Colgate.

President Brian Casey announced the donation on Monday, January 28 to the community, explaining that the donation will influence academics within the sciences and humanities for decades to come. He said the donation will specifically contribute to the renovation and expansion of Olin Hall, which will house the initiative. The fund will support teaching and research on the brain, the mind, cognition and culture.

“On behalf of the entire University, I wish to thank Mr. Ho for his transformative generosity with this gift and with his history of generosity to Colgate. His family, also very supportive of this wonderful contribution, are truly great friends of the University,” Casey said.

According to Casey, faculty in psychological and brain sciences, neuroscience, biology, philosophy, linguistics and several language programs will be connected in new ways. Over the next few months, members of the Dean’s Advisory Council as well as faculty members from these departments will collaborate to greater develop the initiative.

“It is my great belief that, much like the science center, the Robert Hung Ngai Ho Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative will promote creativity across disciplines and become a point of distinction for Colgate. Again, I offer my sincere gratitude, on behalf of the University, to Mr. Ho and his family,” Casey said.

Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Department Krista Ingram expressed her enthusiasm about the recent donation, and said she is eager to see the full array of new tools students will encounter.

“For biologists, one of the most exciting frontiers in the science of the brain is the discovery of the genes and molecular pathways in the brain underlying behavior and how the mind interacts with the social and physical environment,” Ingram said. “This generous gift from [Ho] will establish a new genetics and genomics center and enhance brain imaging and human and animal behavior labs to allow for cutting edge student and faculty research in studies of mind, brain and behavior.”

Ingram said that this donation holds great promise and signifies immense ambition for Colgate.

“Another exciting, ground-breaking goal of the MBB Initiative is to build a bridge between the sciences and the rest of the campus,” Ingram said. “Studies of mind, brain and behavior are organically connected to studies in the arts, economics, philosophy, cultural anthropology and women’s studies, among others. Our initiative enhances the liberal arts objective by breaking down boundaries and forging collaborations across campus.”

In an e-mail sent to all Colgate students on February 1st, Daniel B. Hurwitz ’86 reported on what had occurred during the January Board of Trustees meeting. 

“On Friday night, members of the Board and Cabinet had dinner with emeriti and former trustees,” Hurwitz said. “The highlight of the dinner was President Casey’s announcement of a $15 million commitment by Robert Hung Ngai Ho ’56, H ’11 to establish the Robert Hung Ngai Ho Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative at Colgate University.”

Hurwitz said that the donation will support renovations in Olin Hall and permit Colgate to launch more detailed planning work.

“The entire Colgate community thanks Mr. Ho for his transformational support of Colgate and his deep commitment to the education of our students,” Hurwitz said.

Senior Psychological Science major Maggie McDonnell said the donation will immensely help the Psychological Sciences and Neuroscience Departments.

“I am extremely excited to see that the amazing professors and students in these departments will be able to expand and improve their research opportunities and resources to continue to further the field of psychology in the footsteps of the many successful alumni who precede us,” McDonnell said.

Contact Wynter Schnell at [email protected]