Just over 10 years ago, the private equity mogul Glenn Hutchins was on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. With his 25th Harvard College reunion near, he was thinking about how to put some of his wealth to good use.
One afternoon, clad in a T-shirt and board shorts, he stopped at an old whaling chapel, where Henry Louis Gates Jr., the prominent professor of African and African-American studies at Harvard, was leading a symposium. That encounter gave Mr. Hutchins his cause.
Since then, Mr. Hutchins has strengthened his connection to Mr. Gates and the Harvard program. Their bond will become stronger on Wednesday, when Mr. Hutchins is expected to announce a gift of more than $15 million to create the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research, solidifying Harvard’s program as one of the top in its field.
“It creates an infrastructure for the department and a solid foundation on which they can thrive,” Mr. Hutchins said in an interview this month.