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Alumni/ae shatter class gift records

With an unprecedented gift of $25,019,206 from the Class of 1957 setting the pace, the MIT Association of Alumni and Alumnae announced at its annual Technology Day luncheon that reunion class members had presented a record $56,501,779 in gifts and pledges to MIT, payable over five years.

The class of 1947 celebrated its 50th reunion by breaking the Class of 1942's record, with donations totaling $11,823,004. The Class of 1972 celebrated its 25th by giving a record $4,607,219--announced gleefully by gift chair Wendy E. Erb with an exuberant "We did it!"

"We're delighted with the Triple Crown performance with all three reunion classes breaking all records," said Joseph S. Collins, Alumni/ae Association director of operations. "This represents a great outpouring of generosity by the alumni/ae in all three classes."

In addition, Mr. Collins, who heads the Alumni Fund, expects the Fund also to set a record with more than $25 million in annual gifts.

After the gifts were acknowledged, outgoing Alumni/ae Association President DuWayne J. Peterson Jr. announced that three longtime members of the MIT community had been elected honorary members of the Association. All three--Professor Samuel J. Keyser, a special assistant to Provost Joel Moses; Barbara G. Stowe, vice president for resource development; and Kathryn A. Willmore, executive assistant to President Charles M. Vest--were surprised and obviously pleased to be so honored.

Describing Professor Keyser as the "unofficial humor professor [of MIT], a job to which he is particularly well-suited," Mr. Peterson said he was chosen for his 20 years of "devotion and good-humored service to the Institute and its alumni."

In Ms. Stowe's 17 years at MIT, Mr. Peterson said, she has developed "a special talent to listen and transform what she hears into words that help persuade MIT's alumni and friends to act with generosity and caring. She believes fundraising is not about money, but about a passion to make a great MIT even greater."

Mr. Peterson saluted Ms. Willmore for her devotion to alumni/ae "above and beyond mere job expectations." For 32 years, he said, "she also has demonstrated a unique understanding of the important place of the alumni as members of the MIT community."

Mr. Peterson also announced that more than 1,000 alumni/ae had donated $2.4 million in less than six months to the Paul Gray Endowed Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program Fund, which honors the outgoing Corporation chairman and former president of MIT.

He also presented a gift certificate for a tree to Paul and Priscilla Gray for their home in Little Compton, RI, and noted that two dogwoods had been planted in front of Hayden Library in their honor. "This is our way of recognizing the attributes you have exhibited in your leadership: growing, bending, adapting to change, weathering every storm, seeking every ray of sunlight," said Mr. Peterson, the Association's 102nd president.

In greeting the 875 luncheon guests, Mr. Peterson acknowledged the man who will succeed Dr. Gray as chairman. Describing Alexander V. d'Arbeloff (SB '49) as "another freshman," he said, "We welcome you to the leadership of MIT, and I know the alumni look forward to getting to know you better." He also welcomed 192 members of the Class of '47 to membership in the Cardinal and Gray Society upon reaching their 50th reunion.

When Ms. Erb announced the gift from her class, she turned to Howard M. Johnson, MIT's president during the turbulent 1960s, and said, "I'm sure you had your doubts when we invaded your office. I'm sure there were times when you despaired of our success. But we have succeeded."

Following her to the microphone, John Psarouthakis, Class of '57 gift chair, credited the generosity of Raymond and Maria Stata and their family in making the record-setting gift possible. "We want to help MIT to the extent that we can to maintain its place as the top university of its kind in the world," he said.

Harl P. Aldrich, Class of '47 gift co-chair, noted that the class had produced 900 graduates over three Commencements--a result of World War II and the GI Bill. "We have an abiding affection for this special place, as Paul Gray calls it," he said. "We also have a deep sense of gratitude for the education we received here." His co-chair, Arthur Schwartz, announced the record-setting gift.


Speaking from the floor, Joseph Burley announced proudly that the 19 members of the Class of 1927, all over age 90, and "the loyal widows--they've never been mentioned before," had donated $3,743,350.

In addition to these reunion gifts, Mr. Peterson announced gifts from 11 other classes totaling $11,309,000, including a first class gift of $60,000 from the 1997 graduates.

In accepting the class gifts, President Charles M. Vest said:

"I hope that each of you here today will continue to value your place in this world, and that you will continue contributing to--and benefiting from--membership in our family. Thank you again for participating in this celebration of life at MIT--and for participating in the life of MIT itself."

Among those attending the luncheon were Malcolm (Buzz) Burroughs '20; Marjorie Pierce and Yardley Chittick '22; and alumni/ae from 23 countries, including Gerardo Borromeo '82 of the Philippines, who traveled the longest distance. MIT has 86,800 living alumni from 128 countries.

In concluding the luncheon, Linda C. Sharpe '60, chair of the Tech Day Committee, thanked the Association staff, Susan Tomases and the reunion team and members of her own committee for their role in making the activities a success.

Besides Ms. Sharpe, member of the Technology Day Committee were Carissa M. Climaco '89, Ronald J. Fergle '86, Professor Merton G. Flemings '51, Kenneth F. Gordon '60, Edward A. Jakush '67, Gurumurthy K. Alyanaram '89, James H. Koenig '87, Hyun-A C. Park '83, George B. Raymond '55, and Clinton H. Springer '45. Warren A. Seamans, retired director of the MIT Museum, also served on the committee.


Year: Gift Total

1997: $60,000
1992: $322,000
1987: $44,000
1982: $82,000
1977: $216,000
1972: $4.67 million
1967: $170,000
1962: $634,000
1957: $25.02 million
1952: $329,000
1947: $11.82 million
1942: $1.05 million
1937: $6.54 million
1932: $1.86 million
1927: $3.74 million

Total: $56.57 million

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 11, 1997.

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