David Rubenstein, chair of the Board of Trustees, was featured on CBS’ "60 Minutes" Sunday night in a segment discussing his philanthropic interest in preserving U.S. history.
Rubenstein, Trinity '70, is also co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle group, a $200 billion private equity firm. The businessman and philanthropist has spent more than $50 million to personally finance preservation of rare historical documents, including investments in Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy and its Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which bears his name. An avid supporter of patriotic monuments nationally, Rubenstein helped Congress finance repairs to the Washington Monument after it was damaged in a 2011 earthquake.
In the 60 Minutes interview, he spoke primarily about his motivation as a self-made billionaire who is passionate about both philanthropy and his country's past.
"I generally look at things where my money will make a difference and in patriotic philanthropy, I think I can make a difference,” Rubenstein said in the interview with correspondent Morley Safer.
Rubenstein recently funded a restoration of the Robert E. Lee memorial and will also finance repairs to the Marine Corps war memorial, said Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, as part of the segment. In addition to his investment in patriotic monuments, Rubenstein has purchased rare copies of historical documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Magna Carta, all of which are now reside at various public institutions in Washington.
“If you are better informed about American history you can be a better citizen,” Rubenstein said in the interview.
Rubenstein was one of the early signatories of The Giving Pledge, a project started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that calls on billionaires to give away at least half of their wealth. Pressed by Safer as to the reason he attaches his name to many of the projects he supports, Rubenstein said he had a message.
“I'm trying to say to people, ‘I came from very modest circumstances. And look what I was able to do. You could do the same thing,’" he said.
The interview aired Sunday night at 7 p.m. and can be accessed online here.
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Adam Beyer is a senior public policy major and is The Chronicle's Digital Strategy Team director.