Family of former Lab Schools students provides $10 million giftBy William Harms
The Laboratory Schools have received their largest gift ever––$10 million from the family of Chicago business leader Earl Shapiro, to honor Shapiro, a member of the Laboratory Schools’ class of 1956.
The three children of Earl and Brenda Shapiro also attended Lab: Matthew, who graduated in 1984, and Benjamin and Alexandra, who attended the Laboratory Schools in their early years. Benjamin Shapiro received an M.B.A. from the University’s Graduate School of Business in 1994.
“Lab is truly a special place. The Lab educational experience is unique because of the mix of students, the outstanding faculty and the focus on critical reasoning,” said Matthew Shapiro. “Our family feels it is important to give back, and the Laboratory Schools are a most deserving cause.”
“Our family has always valued education,” said Earl Shapiro. “The Laboratory Schools provided my children and me with an interest in lifelong learning that enriches our lives every day. Unique at Lab is, that in all our generations, there was a large international group reflecting the University’s diverse nature. It thrills us to think that Lab has impacted people all over the world just as it has our family, and that with this gift we are supporting what is truly a global educational jewel.”
President Zimmer said, “The University is proud of our Laboratory Schools, which have provided an outstanding education to generations of Chicagoans as well as children of University families.
“This gift will help us keep the Schools positioned to provide exemplary leadership in an environment that provides individual attention to students and challenges them all to do their best.”
The Laboratory Schools have access to outstanding opportunities and unmatched resources to enhance each child’s experience. Families who choose Lab are attracted to an environment that creates and nurtures the hallmark habits of expansive thinking and complex problem-solving. Last fall, The Wall Street Journal ranked the Laboratory Schools fifth among schools with the most graduates attending the nation’s top universities and colleges.
David Magill, Director of the Laboratory Schools, said, “This gift comes at an unprecedented point in the history of the Laboratory Schools, a time when a major investment is required to maintain the schools’ mission and position as an educational leader. It will ensure that the schools continue to be a place where students receive an education grounded in the core values of experiential learning, reasoning, self-determinism and community.
“The schools are committed to diversity and provide a close-knit, intimate and supportive learning environment. Fully, a third of students at the Laboratory Schools are students of color. The schools are proud of the depth and breadth of their diversity, knowing that it fosters openness and understanding, both of which are essential qualities for participation in our greater society.”
American philosopher and educator John Dewey founded the Laboratory Schools in 1896 to test and demonstrate his then-radical educational theories. Currently, the Laboratory Schools serve 1,750 students in nursery through high school. About half of the students are children of University faculty and staff. In recent years, more than 20 percent of the class has received at least semifinalist recognition from National Merit, Achievement or Hispanic Scholars programs. Many more each year receive commendations from these programs.