Central European University remembers Richard Blum, former trustee, friend and supporter of our University. A distinguished investment banker and philanthropist, Blum died February 27, 2022, after a multi-year battle with cancer. He was 86.
Blum was a champion of many causes he held dear from education to combatting global poverty.
At CEU, where he served as a Trustee from 2013-2021, Blum helped steer the University through years of growth in Budapest. He was vital to the reshaping of the University as we sought a new home in Vienna. An early supporter of the CEU Democracy Institute and the Holbrooke Fellowships at the Shattuck Center, he spurred CEU alumni worldwide to support their alma mater by issuing matching gift challenges.
"Dick's leadership made a tremendous impact on CEU's pursuit of academic excellence and also in preparing our students to lead as passionate advocates for open and democratic societies," said CEU President and Rector Shalini Randeria. In recognition of his work, she and the Board of Trustees presented him with a key to the University in 2021.
Blum founded the Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California Berkeley, which served as a model for similar Blum Centers all over the state of California. He served as chairman emeritus of the University of California Board of Regents; co-chairman of the World Conference on Religion and Peace; founding member of National Geographic's International Council of Advisors; trustee of the executive committee of The Carter Center. Other board memberships included the World Wildlife Fund, the Wilderness Society, the Brookings Institution, the California Academy of Sciences and the Glide Foundation.
His philanthropic passion was the fight against poverty. This manifested in his work with CEU and other educational institutions, and in helping people across the Himalayas. An avid climber, he founded the American Himalayan Foundation in 1981 to bring shelter, safety, education, health, and opportunity to the region. Through this work, Blum had a deep and lasting impact on thousands of Tibetans, Sherpas, and Nepalis. He chronicled this in his memoir, An Accident of Geography: Compassion, Innovation and the Fight Against Poverty. In recognition of his service to the country, he was made an honorary consul of Nepal.
Blum is mourned by his wife US Senator Dianne Feinstein, to whom he was married for more than 40 years, three daughters and stepdaughter, grandchildren, and his brother, as well as numerous colleagues and friends around the world. He is remembered fondly at CEU.
On behalf of the CEU Board, and the entire CEU community we extend our condolences to Richard Blum's family.