A Big Liberal Arts Gift Touches Multiple Areas on Campus

In covering higher ed giving, we write often about gifts that touch a particular program or school on a college campus or university.  Donors are especially motivated to give back to the programs they attended, or address a certain problem (financial aid, for instance) on campus. Other times, though, gifts are spread widely, with money going to a variety of different efforts on campus.

A recent $20 million gift by Robert Hale and his wife Karen to Hale's alma mater, Connecticut College, is an example of a gift intended to benefit multiple spaces on campus. Ten million will go toward scholarships, $5 million toward the college's career services program, and another $5 million will beef up the school's athletic facilities. The couple's gift is the largest in the school's history.

Robert Hale graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in history in 1988. He's currently president and CEO of Granite Telecommunications in Quincy, Massachussetts. The Hales are also active in civic life. Hale currently serves on the board of Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, Deerfield Academy, and the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund. He's also a trustee at Connecticut College. Karen, meanwhile, is a passionate advocate for education. The couple's philanthropic vehicle, New Breeze Foundation, focuses its giving in the Northeast.

As for the couple's $20 million gift to Connecticut College, the money targets several key areas on campus. The scholarship component of the gift, the Hale Scholars Program, will make good on the college's promise to meet 100 percent of an accepted student’s financial need. The $5 million going to Connecticut College's career program, meanwhile, supports a program that is already nationally recognized, ranked by the Princeton Review among the top 20 in North America. The new funds will endow the Hale Family Director of Career and Professional Development.

Connecticut College is actually the only liberal arts school in New England on Princeton Review's top 20 list. This is pretty noteworthy, considering that New England isn't exactly lacking in prestigious and well-endowed liberal arts schools, with institutions like Wesleyan, Williams and Amherst all in close proximity. Continuing to fuel money into an already solid program allows Connecticut College to stand out in that respect. 

Finally, funds will also support athletics at Connecticut College—Hale himself was a member of the varsity lacrosse team when he was a student. As Hale puts it: "The ability to be on a team helped shape me in many ways... winning and losing, and handling both of them with grace are important life experiences."