David H. Koch ’62 dies at 79

Koch donated $100 million for the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

David H. Koch ’62 died Aug. 23 at the age of 79. Koch, an industrialist, philanthropist, and political activist, donated $100 million for the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and $20 million for the David H. Koch Childcare Center. 

Koch was also extremely politically influential. Koch donated to conservative and libertarian organizations like the Freedom Partners Fund, Americans for Prosperity Action, and Senate Leadership Fund. 

Koch graduated from MIT with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering, and then joined his family’s business, Koch Industries (KI). According to the KI website, they are involved in ethanol production, glass, electronic components, flooring, ranching, and construction materials, among others. From 1983 to his retirement in 2018, Koch was the co-owner and executive vice president of KI.

Koch was also a life member emeritus of the MIT Corporation.

Throughout his career, Koch donated to various causes, including medical research (notably cancer research), science and arts organizations, educational institutions, and political organizations, including climate change denial efforts.

The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research was established following Koch’s gift in Oct. 2007. According to an obituary by the Koch Institute, Koch was motivated by his own experience with prostate cancer, which started in 1992, to become a supporter of the cause. The Koch Institute wrote that Koch’s gift enabled the creation of a location where “scientists and engineers work together under one roof in pursuit of powerful, new ways to diagnose, treat, and ultimately prevent cancer.”

In October 2013, MIT dedicated the David H. Koch Childcare Center on Vassar Street. Koch was the lead donor. According to a 2013 MIT News release, the childcare center added 126 spaces to MIT’s Technology Childcare Centers. The release said that Koch learned in 2011 that “MIT needed more child care in order to meet the needs of faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students — and in order for MIT to be able to attract and retain talent generally.”

According to an obituary published by MIT News, MIT has professorships in the fields of biology, biological engineering, chemical engineering, and materials science and engineering that are endowed by Koch and bear his name. Koch also endowed the position of lead coach for the MIT men’s basketball team and had a relationship with the team since his undergraduate years.