Eli Broad, founder of SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home, former member of the Caltech Board of Trustees, and a Life Member of the Caltech community passed away on April 30, 2021. He was 87 years old.
An entrepreneur, civic leader, and philanthropist who earned distinction as a patron of Los Angeles, Broad was an influential advocate for and generous benefactor of life sciences research, public education, and the arts. Throughout his life, he worked to create and foster new businesses, education organizations, scientific research institutions, and museums.
At Caltech, Broad's commitment was most evident through his enduring leadership on the Caltech Board of Trustees and his longstanding and continued investments in the Institute. In partnership with his wife Edythe, Broad donated more than $40 million to the biological sciences at Caltech through the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. Their generosity helped to establish in 2002 the Broad Center for Biological Sciences, an interdisciplinary campus hub that houses research groups exploring diseases, disorders, and medical treatments and therapies, and continues to provide flexible funding for professors to pursue bold new areas of science. The Broads also endowed the David Baltimore Professorship at Caltech to honor the long-time Broad Foundation board member and Caltech president emeritus.
"Eli Broad's distinctive vision and influence shaped the landscape of Los Angeles, cultivating the arts, education, and science, and enriching our society," says Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum, Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. "At Caltech, Eli and Edye catalyzed research in the life sciences, helping our faculty and students illuminate nature and improve the human condition. He will be sorely missed."
Broad was named to the Caltech Board of Trustees in 1993 and became a Life Member of the Caltech community in 2007. During his time of active service on the board, Broad chaired the Investment Committee and was a member of the Executive Committee, the Audit and Compliance Committee, the Buildings and Grounds Committee, and the Nominating Committee.
"Through his philanthropy and friendship, Eli Broad commemorated Caltech's history and propelled us into the future," says David L. Lee (PhD '74), chair of the Caltech Board of Trustees. "He was a champion for education and science, ensuring the future of discovery for generations to come."
Broad was born on June 6, 1933, in New York. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1954 with a BA in accounting. Over a five-decade career in business, Broad built two Fortune 500 companies from the ground up, Kaufman and Broad Homebuilding Corporation (now known as KB Home) and SunAmerica Inc.
In recent years, the Broads devoted themselves to philanthropy as founders of the Broad Art Foundation, established to increase public access to contemporary art through an enterprising loan program, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which they formed to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science, and the arts.
The Broad Art Foundation is a lending library of contemporary artworks that have been loaned more than 8,000 times to more than 500 museums and galleries worldwide. Broad also helped to transform Los Angeles's cultural scene with pivotal roles in the creation of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Broad, an art museum that he financed personally.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation's major education initiatives, which have resulted in more than $600 million in charitable investments across the country, include the $1 million Broad Prize for Urban Education, the Broad Academy, and the Broad Residency in Urban Education. To advance innovative scientific and medical research, the Foundation has allocated more than $800 million in donations to research that contributes to the understanding of human genomics, stem cells, cancer, AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, and the molecular basis of immune response. Along with his contributions to Caltech, Broad supported life sciences research at UCLA, USC, UC San Francisco, MIT, and Harvard. In partnership with Harvard and MIT, Broad helped establish the Broad Institute, a Cambridge-based research center that has led in the development of computational tools for analyzing genome data and generated more cancer genome data than any other center in the world.
Building the Broad Institute, was "the most satisfying and important philanthropy of his life," says Caltech President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Biology David Baltimore, who was introduced to Broad first through their leadership roles at Caltech and later continued to collaborate through the Broad Foundation, for which Baltimore served as board member.
"His generosity and concern for the City of Los Angeles, for the arts, and for the biomedical sciences, was on a scale that was qualitatively different than anyone else," Baltimore added. "And while he had no scientific background himself, his belief in and commitment to the people around him enabled him to move forward the kinds of biological science—stem cell science, genomic science—that have made a huge difference the last couple of decades."
Broad was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001 and was extensively recognized for his philanthropic endeavors. Among his honors, Broad received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2007 and the Los Angeles Arts Council Life Achievement/Arts Award in 1989. In 1995, he received the Legion d'Honneur Insignia of the Chevalier from the government of France.
He is survived by Edythe, his wife of 66 years; sons Jeffrey and Gary Broad; and other family members.
This story was updated on May 3, 2021.