Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) has received a $400 million donation, the largest donation ever made to any Israeli educational institution. The donation comes from the estate of the late Dr. Howard and Lottie Marcus of San Diego.

“The funds will be used to establish a permanent endowment in support of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, which will yield endowment assets that more than double the size of the current university endowment,” said a statement by American Associates, BGU (AABGU), the Israeli university’s U.S.-based fundraising arm.

“The Marcuses first encountered BGU in 1997, and were captivated by its research primarily in the fields of water, desalination, and desert studies. They supported research in those fields, including a laboratory and student scholarships. They believed that water solutions are the key to achieving peace in the Middle East. Shortly thereafter, they made the decision to leave the majority of their fortune to the university,” AABGU said.

The Marcuses fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s and lost most of their family members in the Holocaust. They immigrated to the U.S., where Howard Marcus worked as a dentist and where they amassed their fortune through investments. Howard Marcus died in 2014 at age 104, while Lottie Marcus died last December at age 99.

BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi said, “Just as [the Marcuses] viewed their fortune as merely a way to fulfill a greater mission, so too were they themselves larger than life. Lottie and Howard are deeply missed, but their legacy will be felt in every BGU hallway and courtyard; in each classroom and laboratory; and by the faculty, students, and staff who will be touched b