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A 1974 University at Buffalo social work graduate, who once drove a taxicab in New York City, has pledged $1 million to the UB School of Social Work, university officials announced.

Leslie A. Brun, now an international investment adviser in Philadelphia, is giving $500,000 to establish the Serge D. Valme Fellowship in memory of a favorite uncle and $100,000 to support research at the School of Social Work.

He is challenging others to give gifts of $1,000 or more that he will match until he reaches the full $1 million gift amount.

"State schools are generally unrecognized for their accomplishments," Brun said. "Since I am a product of a state school and am proud of my accomplishments, I wanted to give back to the institution that contributed greatly to my success."

Brun's donation is part of UB's ongoing $250 million "Campaign for UB, Generation to Generation."

The fund drive is believed to be the largest campaign ever conducted by a public university in New York and New England.

Born in Haiti, Brun spent the year following his graduation from UB driving a taxicab in New York City, where he had been brought up.

He began a career in banking in 1975 as supervisor of operations for Bankers Trust in New York, moving on over the years to other banks.

He founded Hamilton Lane Advisors in Philadelphia in 1991.

He is currently chairman and chief executive officer of the privately held investment advisory and money management firm, which oversees more than $32 billion in commitments to more than 340 partnerships worldwide.

Lawrence Shulman, dean of UB's School of Social Work, said Brun's donation will help to set up the infrastructure that will be needed to pursue federal, state and private funding for a number of research projects at the school.

These include a study of the impact of alcohol use on mothers and children, testing prevention models for work with children of alcoholic parents and developing a model for working with students suspended from school for violence.

The school violence model is being developed in collaboration with the Buffalo Public Schools and United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

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