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Smithsonian Receives $10 Million to Endow Director’s Position at National Museum of Natural History

by Philanthropy News Digest

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has announced a $10 million gift from Roger Sant and his wife, Vicki, to endow the director’s position at the National Museum of Natural History and support the museum’s research and public engagement initiatives.

The gift was made through the Sants’ foundation, the Summit Fund of Washington, which aims to improve life in the National Capital Region. Cristián Samper, the museum’s director since 2003, is leaving at the end of July to become president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City. Samper also served as acting secretary of the Smithsonian in 2007.

The gift brings the Sants’ total support for the museum to $35 million, which includes a $15 million gift in 2008 for the Sant Ocean Hall and a $10 million gift in 2005 to establish the Sant Chair for Marine Science.

“It is a privilege for Vicki and me to endow the director’s position at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History,” said Roger Sant, who is also vice chair of the museum’s advisory board. “We feel it is important to establish endowments for the key positions at the Smithsonian and hope this gift will help set a precedent to further that practice. We have watched the museum grow and thrive under Cristián’s leadership, so this gift is in thanks to him. But we also hope it will help attract our next director so that he or she can continue the tradition of scholarship and excellence that has made the museum not just a leading research center but a destination for visitors of all ages through the strength of its exhibitions.”

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