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MIT Better World

Larry Dickerson and Marcela Donadio, parents of a son who graduates this spring, make a commitment to help expand MIT’s learning community.


By Liz Karagianis

Now, she’s glad he didn’t listen to her.

“Over his years at the school, he’s grown and changed,” she says of her son Steven ’11, who studies aeronautics and astronautics. “MIT has been just the right environment in which he can thrive.”

Donadio and her husband, Larry Dickerson, were so impressed with the Institute’s mission, excellence, and influence not only in their son’s life, but in the life of the world — that recently they made a major gift to MIT to support renovations in Maseeh Hall, which opens this fall thanks to the generosity of Fariborz Maseeh ScD ’90. The new facility, which includes The Howard Dining Hall, will make it possible for MIT to expand the undergraduate student body to 4,500 students, an increase of about 250 from today’s enrollment.

“It is MIT’s mission to educate young men and women to become leaders in the world,” Dickerson says. “We wanted to help create access to an MIT education for greater numbers of qualified students.”

The new facility has been designed to foster community and teamwork to help meet MIT’s rigorous demands. This residence and dining hall will not only provide living space but also social facilities, where students can learn from each other and gain communication and leadership skills.

Both experts in the field of energy, Dickerson is CEO of Diamond Offshore Drilling, a drilling company active in the oceans off six continents; Donadio is a partner at Ernst & Young, a top accounting firm where she is energy industry leader for North and South America. MIT’s initiative to tackle the world’s energy problem first sparked their interest in MIT and later led to their engagement. Dickerson now serves on the Institute’s Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences Visiting Committee, and Donadio is a member of the Corporation Development Committee.

“I’m delighted to be involved with MIT, and am particularly thrilled that we will continue our involvement after our son graduates,” Donadio says.

Dickerson adds: “In the popular culture, ‘MIT’ is shorthand for genius. Through my involvement with the Institute as a parent, by serving on a Visiting Committee, and now by helping the MIT learning community grow, I am doing what I can to help expand the full impact of MIT to the world.”

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