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Conn. College receives $20m from Granite Telecommunications CEO

Robert Hale Jr., Granite Telecommunications CEO.
Robert Hale Jr., Granite Telecommunications CEO.Chris Morris for The Boston Globe

A $20 million gift may be pocket change to Harvard University, which received a $400 million donation a few months ago. But for 1,900-student Connecticut College in New London, Conn., it’s an unimaginable windfall.

The inconceivable became reality this week, when Robert Hale Jr., CEO of Quincy-based Granite Telecommunications, and his wife, Karen, gave that sum to the school, which is Hale’s alma mater (he’s a 1988 grad).

“It’s a transformative gift,” said spokeswoman Deborah MacDonnell. “When you look at the $400 million to Harvard, this is a comparable gift for us as a small liberal arts college.”

Half the money — the largest donation the school has ever received — will be used for scholarships, and the rest will be split between its career program and athletic facilities.

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Asked what motivates his philanthropy, Hale, 49, quoted Maya Angelou: “To those who are given much, much is expected.”

Granite’s employees benefit from that largesse, too. When the company hit $1 billion in revenue last year, it gave each of its then-1,300 employees a $1,000 bonus and raffled off another million in amounts ranging from $5,000 to a grand prize of $100,000.

Granite, which Hale founded with his late father in 2002, now has 1,425 employees. Of the company’s rapid growth, Hale had this to say: “Trying like hell!” — SACHA PFEIFFER

Vicki Kennedy to join Greenberg Traurig

During the opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in March, Victoria Reggie Kennedy was approached by Marvin Rosen , a shareholder at the law firm Greenberg Traurig , with a proposal.

Now that the center that bears her late husband’s name is complete, would she be willing to come back to the law firm where she worked in the 1990s?

“The timing was perfect,” Kennedy recalled. “[I said], ‘Let’s keep talking.’ ”

Those talks led to Kennedy’s new job: senior counsel, based in Greenberg Traurig’s Washington and Boston offices. Her first day in the D.C. office was Tuesday. She said she’ll work out of the Boston office for the first time next week.

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When she was at Greenberg Traurig’s Washington office in 1995 through 1997, she focused on regulatory work with banks. Her job will be much more general this time around: offering advice to corporate clients on an array of complex legal issues and helping to connect them with specialists at the firm.

Before joining Greenberg Traurig, she ran her own consulting firm, VR Kennedy Strategies, but she said she scaled back that work to help get the EMK Institute launched. (She will remain president of the institute’s board of directors).

She’s admitted to practice law in Louisiana and D.C. and plans to get admitted to the Massachusetts bar soon.

Kennedy’s not fazed by the distance between her two offices. “I’ve been making that trek between Boston and Washington for a long time now,” she said. — JON CHESTO

A full dance card for Vivien Li of Boston Harbor

Saying goodbye to Vivien Li, the longtime head of the Boston Harbor Association , will be easy. The hard part will be picking which going-away party to attend.

So far, there will be seven events thrown in her honor before the unofficial mayor of the Boston waterfront leaves town on Oct. 1. After nearly a quarter of a century at the powerful harbor advocacy group, Li is moving to Pittsburgh, where she will run Riverlife, a public-private partnership charged with redeveloping riverfront properties.

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The Barr Foundation will kick off a series of tributes to Li with a celebration in East Boston on Monday, Sept. 14, followed two days later with a gathering in Downtown Crossing organized by Debra Blair, president of the real estate tracking firm LINK.

The Boston Harbor Association itself will have three soirees: a dinner with trustees aboard the Boston Harbor Cruises’ Majesty boat, a fund-raiser at the Boston Harbor Hotel, and a public farewell party at the Boston Society of Architects space on Atlantic Wharf.

Judy Nitsch , founder of Nitsch Engineering, is also opening up her Weston home so that Li can be toasted by women leaders in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. Meanwhile, the Friends of Fort Point Channel are organizing a reception on Atlantic Wharf.

At least two more celebrations are in the works. The problem is finding enough time in Li’s schedule.

“I don’t want to sound rude,” said Li, “but we cannot do two in one night.” — SHIRLEY LEUNG

BioPharm America draws lineup of heavyweights

The big Biotechnology Industry Organization convention hasn’t been held in Boston since 2012. And the next J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference , the premiere investment gathering for biotech honchos, will convene this winter, as always, in San Francisco.

But for those seeking assurance that Greater Boston remains at the center of the life sciences cosmos, the annual BioPharm America international partnering conference, sponsored by EBD Group, is returning to the Boston Marriott Copley Plaza Sept. 15-17 with a star lineup of industry heavyweights.

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Speakers include former Genzyme chief executive Henri Termeer , Baxalta chief scientific officer John Orloff, Forum Pharmaceuticals chief executive Deborah Dunsire , Gurnet Point Capital managing partner Christopher Viehbacher, and Evercore Partners managing director Francois Maisonrouge.

In addition to sessions on big data, rare diseases, and precision medicine, the conference will offer a discussion titled “Giving up the corporate jet and getting back to the trenches.” — ROBERT WEISMAN


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