CLAREMONT, Calif., March 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The largest gift in the history of Claremont McKenna College for direct faculty support has literally met its match. The College today announces it is reaching the successful conclusion of the George R. Roberts Faculty Leadership Initiative, a fundraising measure launched in 2006 to raise a total of $60 million to build, support, and strengthen the College's academic environment with exceptional scholars committed to teaching and research.
Named for Trustee George Roberts '66 P'93, the Roberts Challenge was inspired by a matching gift from Roberts and his family to encourage additional support for endowed faculty positions. Since the launch of the Roberts Challenge in fall 2006, the College has endowed 26 additional chairs, including nine new positions.
Faculty members who have received an endowed chair under the Roberts Faculty Leadership Initiative also hold special designation as George R. Roberts Fellows and represent outstanding teacher-scholars with reputations for strong, attentive relationships with students.
"The match was a transformative gift for faculty development at Claremont McKenna," said CMC President Pamela B. Gann. "It has brought a new and broader dimension to our faculty and our students will continue to benefit from an extraordinary academic experience for generations to come."
Beyond broadening opportunities for faculty-student collaboration and curricular development, the Roberts Challenge has increased CMC's capacity to recruit and retain the next generation of outstanding faculty members in a highly competitive and global marketplace.
In the midst of an ambitious $600 million fundraising campaign, the Roberts Challenge generated $60 million for the College's endowment.
"The Initiative's legacy will be extensive," echoed dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs Gregory Hess, who also serves as the James G. Boswell Professor of Economics and George R. Roberts Fellow. "The generosity of the participants—such as parents, foundations, and alumni—in the Challenge has allowed the College to continue to elevate its prominence in preparing our students for thoughtful and productive lives of responsible leadership."
Those participants include trustees of Claremont McKenna College, who generously funded 17 of the 26 George R. Roberts Fellows. They also represent a number of alumni and other constituents who pledged gifts honoring their favorite CMC teacher-scholars. One of the most recent, a commitment of $1.33 million, was given by Marcy and Paul Nathan '80 to establish a chair in economics and finance that honors professor emeritus Gordon Bjork. The Nathans' commitment was met with a matching gift of $666,000 from George Roberts, for a total of $2 million for the professorship.
"The Roberts Challenge made our dream possible," Paul Nathan said. "We endowed a chair because it meant more to us to honor and recognize a professor this way than if we had simply made a donation in our name."
Professor Bjork had opened his home to Nathan and his classmates, and had founded an economics discussion group that led to close, lifelong friendships between its members and founder. When the Roberts Challenge presented opportunities for endowed professorships, Nathan's wife, Marcy, needed no convincing. "She shares my passion about what an outstanding institution CMC is, and how incredible The Claremont Colleges are as a whole," Nathan said. There was also deep respect for George Roberts' philanthropic work––something Nathan shares in common with the Trustee. "We both are committed to carrying out our mission of providing opportunities to others and to support the institutions from which we have benefited."
Other pledges to the Roberts Challenge were the result of broad-based community efforts. In addition to Mr. Roberts' commitment, 168 donors, for example, collectively established the College's Morcos Massoud Chair of Accounting, honoring longtime teaching legend Marc Massoud P'89.
"What this all demonstrates," said Ernie Iseminger, vice president for development and external relations, "is that we have an exceptional and extremely devoted Board, and a very supportive and determined body of alumni and parents, who have stepped up to meet this transformative challenge, investing in our continued academic excellence."
"Mr. Roberts' challenge has leveraged our academic profile in all academic areas of the College," added vice president for academic affairs Gregory Hess.
The Roberts Faculty Leadership Initiative specifically supports faculty endowment priorities that have emerged from CMC's strategic plan, which was adopted by the Board of Trustees in March 2002.
"The leadership shown by George Roberts throughout his career and life is reflected in this important and course-changing gift," said Harry McMahon '75 P'08'09, Board of Trustees Chair. "We are extremely grateful to the Roberts family for their generous and visionary support."
About George R. Roberts
George Roberts is a 1966 graduate, has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1992, and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the College in 1993. Over the years, the Roberts family—George, his late wife, Leanne Bovet Roberts, and their three children––Eric (a 1993 graduate of CMC), Mark, and Courtney––have given more than $37 million to support major academic areas and facilities at Claremont McKenna College. These include the College's Roberts Environmental Center and support toward construction of the Roberts North and South Academic Buildings in 1995. The Roberts family has also endowed the Roberts Chaired Professorship in Environmental Biology and a scholarship fund to support need-based financial aid.
Roberts, who also holds a JD degree from the University of California (Hastings) Law School, co-founded Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in 1976 with his cousin, Henry R. Kravis, who graduated from the College in 1967 and also is a member of the CMC Board of Trustees. KKR is one of the world's oldest and most experienced private equity firms specializing in management buyouts. Founded in 1976, it has offices in New York, Menlo Park, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and India.
About Claremont McKenna College
Claremont McKenna College, established in 1946, excels in preparing students for leadership through the liberal arts in business, the professions and public affairs. The College is home to more than 130 accomplished teacher-scholars who are dedicated to teaching and to offering unparalleled opportunities for student collaboration in the research process. CMC combines need-blind admission, innovative programs, a 9-to-1 student-faculty ratio, ten research institutes, the impact of The Claremont Colleges, and a strong and committed network of alumni and parents to educate its graduates for a lifetime of leadership.
SOURCE Claremont McKenna College