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The University of Nevada, Reno received a substantial donation of $36 million from the George W. Gillemot Foundation, according to a statement sent to the campus community from Brian Sandoval, president of the University of Nevada, on Nov. 1. This sum is the largest individual cash gift the university has ever received.

“Today’s announcement speaks to the strong commitment of the Gillemot Trustees to meet the needs of Nevada’s future, as an investment in the success of our students, faculty and staff whose innovative work is driving the next great chapter in our state’s history,” the statement said.

The donation will go towards developing the George W. Gillemot Aerospace Engineering Department within the College of Engineering with the approval of the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Additionally, it will be put towards new visual technological advancements, called DomeX, for the George W. Gillemot Dome in the College of Science’s Fleischmann Planetarium.

The gift will also be put towards fee waivers and attendance costs for K-12 students who visit the planetarium every year — hoping to “continue to share the message with students that careers in StEM are crucial to the future of our world.”

The late George W. Gillemot, who passed earlier this year at age 96, had a “distinguished, influential and highly innovative career,” working as an engineer in World War II, manufacturing patent-level telecommunications technology and longtime supporter of the university. Gillemot’s goal was to increase the education and industry of aeronautics.

The email said the university expects the first bachelor’s degrees in aerospace engineering to be awarded in three to five years. 

Jaedyn Young can be reached at or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.

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