With a net worth that exceeds $20 billion, Kenneth C. Griffin clearly knows how to make a buck. In 1990, Griffin founded Citadel Investment Group, and has since served as the firm's Chief Executive Officer. Based in Chicago, the company operates two primary businesses: Citadel, one of the largest hedge funds with more than $38 billion in assets under management, and Citadel Securities, a market maker that handles roughly 40% of all stock trades in the U.S. Griffin, a multi-billionaire as of 2007, is also an active philanthropist. During the pandemic, Griffin funded the State Department's rescue of 800 U.S. citizens from Wuhan and donated $45 million to community initiatives in cities like Chicago and Miami. In addition, Griffin is an active supporter of various boards, including the Chicago Public Education Fund, the Economic Club of Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Griffin's success on Wall Street can be traced back to his days in the Ivy League, where he got his first taste of triumph in the investment world. In 1986, Griffin enrolled at Harvard College, where he famously persuaded the University to let him install a satellite dish on the roof of the Cabot House dormitory in order to receive stock quotes. As a freshman, one of his first investments was to buy put options on Home Shopping Network, making a $5,000 profit. Soon afterwards, he was running a convertible bond arbitrage fund—while keeping up with his studies. In 1989, Griffin graduated with a degree in economics.
As a proud member of the Harvard community, Griffin has long supported numerous financial initiatives at his alma mater. In 1999, in his 10th Reunion year, he established a scholarship at the College in honor of his grandfather, Wayne R. Gratz. He also served on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Financial Aid Task Force at Harvard. It was in 2014, however, several months after celebrating his 25th Class Reunion, that the Wall Street tycoon caused quite a stir by announcing his plans to donate $150 million to support need-based financial aid at Harvard. This was the largest gift in school history at the time. On campus, Griffin spoke about the priceless experience he had at Harvard and the way the faculty and staff immediately encouraged him to pursue his passions.
“Simply put, my Harvard experience changed my life,” Griffin said. “My hope is that with this gift we will make it possible for the best and brightest in our nation and in our world to have the same experience that I had at Harvard.”
In recognition of Griffin’s generosity and commitment to Harvard’s financial aid program, the Harvard College Office of Financial Aid was renamed the Griffin Financial Aid Office, and the head of that office is now known as the Griffin Director of Financial Aid.