The gift from Samuel Tak Lee, who earned two degrees from MIT in the early 1960s, is one of the largest in the school's history.
The money will be used to establish the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab, and will fund student fellowships; support research on real estate and urbanization; and make the lab's curriculum available online worldwide via the university's MITx program.
The gift was motivated by a desire to design a program with MIT that ties the study of real estate to 21st-century realities such as land reform, environmental challenges, burgeoning populations, and an evolving global economy, said Lee, who earned bachelor's degree in 1962 and a master's in 1964, both in civil and environmental engineering.
"This is a period of tremendous change and opportunity for entrepreneurs in China and around the world," Lee says. "By cultivating a long-term perspective, real estate professionals can create even greater value for themselves and for society based on responsible, sustainable strategies."
MIT President L. Rafael Reif called the gift "transformative."
"As MIT strives to work for the betterment of humankind, Sam's generosity dramatically increases our capacity to create and inspire far-reaching positive change," Reif said.
In recognition of Lee's substantial and ongoing commitment, Building 9, home to the MIT Center for Real Estate, will be named the Samuel Tak Lee Building.
After graduating from MIT, Lee joined Prudential Enterprise, a Hong Kong-based real estate company founded by his father and a cousin. Under Lee's leadership, Prudential has grown into a multinational firm with significant holdings in Hong Kong, England, Japan, Switzerland, and Singapore.