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Cecil H. Green ’23

Cecil H. Green ’23, namesake of the Green Building and one of MIT’s most prominent donors, died of complications due to pneumonia on April 11. He was 102.

“Cecil Green and his wife Ida were arguably the greatest philanthropists ever with interests in promoting science,” said President Charles M. Vest.

The New York Times reported that the couple’s philanthropy totalled $200 million. The Greens donated over $31.7 million to MIT alone, the equivalent of “more than $91 million in today’s dollars,” according to the MIT News Office.

“MIT always had a special place in Cecil’s heart,” Vest said. His gifts funded the Green Building, home of the the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, and Green Hall, a dormitory for female graduate students.

Green also endowed “professorships and graduate fellowships for women students,” Vest said, and “he visited MIT frequently and always met with the students who held his fellowships.”

“He was interesting and intellectually lively at least into his 99th year, when I last visited him,” Vest said.

Green money pays for tea time

Part of Green’s donations pay for a daily tea time in the EAPS lounge.

Green and his wife enabled the Institute to build the Green Building, the tallest building on campus, “with the understanding that it be used according to the good judgement of Dr. Robert R. Shrock for the benefit of education in the Earth Sciences,” according to a 1954 letter from the Greens.

Shrock, then the head of the department, later instructed that the interest on the endowment be used “to defray the Earth Science Lounge expenses incurred in having the daily afternoon tea-coffee break for the [geology and meteorology departments] and for regular teas” before seminars.

Daily tea time is still a fixture in the Green Building.

“It’s a nice break,” said John Politano, an administrative officer in the EAPS department. “It’s unique. ... Everyone really looks forward to it.”

Green started Texas Instruments

After receiving both an SB and an SM in electrical engineering in 1924, Green worked as an engineer for several electronics companies, tried to start a business selling neon signs in Canada, and answered job ads of all sorts.

Green finally accepted a position at Geophysical Service Inc. in 1930. Eleven years later, he and three partners bought the company, which at the time was a subsidiary of Coronado Corporation.

In 1951 the company was renamed Texas Instruments Inc. Green served as its president from 1951 to 1955. He retired in 1975.

He and his wife spent many of their later years giving away the money they had earned.

“Green Buildings to support science are found at MIT, Stanford, Oxford, The Universities of British Columbia, Texas, Sidney, at the National Academy of Science, and at many other institutions,” Vest said.