Otago University says New Zealand's richest man, Graeme Hart, and his wife Robyn are giving it $10 million, the most significant donation in the university's near-150 year history.
The funding will be used to help develop a new $28.2m dental teaching facility in South Auckland.
"We are immensely grateful to Graeme and the Hart family for their generosity," said chair of the University of Otago Foundation Trust John Ward.
"This funding will make a significant contribution to the development of a new dental teaching facility which will not only provide students with diverse practical learning opportunities but will also provide dental care for the local diverse communities at a highly accessible cost," Ward said in a statement.
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Hart topped National Business Review's annual rich list yet again this year with an estimated $9 billion fortune.
Hart, who left school at 15 and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university a year ago, said he is "delighted to be able to assist our university in providing a dental school that will meet the needs of lower socio-economic groups. We are very pleased that the youth and young children of this region will benefit from this facility."
Hart, who lives in Auckland, said being able to undertake a Master of Business Administration course at the university "was one of the most pivotal and influential experiences" of his career.
The university said Hart's research thesis outlined the strategy for Rank, then a small party hire company, to grow "and it has indeed expanded to become the largest business enterprise in New Zealand" which has invested in companies including Whitcoulls, Goodman Fielder and Carter Holt Harvey.
The university's two-storey, 32-chair dental building will be built at the Counties Manukau District Health Board's Super Clinic site on Great South Road.