Cosmo founder donating $30M to Columbia, Stanford

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NEW YORK (AP) - Cosmopolitan magazine founder Helen Gurley Brown is donating $30 million to Stanford and Columbia universities to create a bicoastal media innovation laboratory, the universities and Hearst Corp. announced Monday.

The gift honors Brown’s late husband, producer David Brown, a graduate of Stanford and of Columbia’s journalism school.

The David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation will be housed on both campuses.

“The Brown Institute will bring together creative innovators skilled in production and delivery of news and entertainment with the entrepreneurial researchers at Stanford working in multimedia technology,” said Stanford engineering professor Bernd Girod, who will serve as the institute’s founding director until Columbia appoints his East Coast counterpart.

Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, said, “We’re going to be a kind of innovation laboratory. We’re not here to do iPhone apps. … We’re here to try to make fundamental underlying technological advances that will have a lasting effect on media and journalism.”

Each school will receive $12 million, and an additional $6 million will pay for a renovated wing at Columbia featuring a state-of-the-art newsroom.

Brown’s gift will fund graduate and postgraduate fellowships as well as grants that will be awarded competitively.

Helen Gurley Brown, who turns 90 in February, wrote the 1962 best-seller “Sex and the Single Girl” and edited Cosmopolitan from 1965 to 1996.

Her success came without the benefit of higher education.

“She’d like to provide that opportunity to other young people since she never had it,” said Eve Burton, a vice president and general counsel of Hearst.

David Brown died in 2010 at age 93. He and partner Richard D. Zanuck were the producers of Hollywood hits including “Jaws” and “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Brown began his career as a journalist and was the managing editor of Cosmopolitan before his wife’s tenure.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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