MacArthur Foundation Seeks a Narrower, Deeper Focus

Universities in Russia and Africa are beneficiaries of new approach

When John D. MacArthur set up his foundation in the months before his death in 1978, he made a point of not specifying what kind of good works the philanthropy should support. "I made the money," he told the handful of associates he had picked to run his fund. "It's going to be up to you to figure out how to spend it."

Officials of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have been grappling with that responsibility ever since. With assets now worth $4.7-billion, the annual