Arik Hesseldahl

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Oracle Chairman Makes $50 Million Gift to Study Energy Efficiency

Jeff Henley, the former CFO of software giant Oracle and now the chairman of its board, is making a $50 million gift to the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency.

The institute is studying ways to make things like lightbulbs that are 20 times more efficient than the ones we use now, and also ways to make computers — which are pretty good at hogging power — more efficient and fast. It’s also working with nanomaterials to make batteries better, pushing the edges on research into fuel cells.

Of the $50 million gift, $30 million will pay for a building to be called Henley Hall, which the university is describing as its base of operations and faculty recruitment. The rest will go directly to the College of Engineering to support its priorities.

The Institute for Energy Efficiency was created two years ago and already has 50 faculty members, five of them Nobel Prize winners, and 120 graduate and post-doc students collaborating on energy-efficient technologies. Henley was CFO at Oracle from 1991 until 2004, at which point he was elected chairman of the board. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara with an engineering degree in 1966. He’s also giving this year’s commencement address at the school.

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