George School to Receive $128.5 Million Gift
Monday, September 17, 2007
In what is being regarded as one of the largest single gifts to an existing independent school in the United States, George School is the recipient of an extraordinary donation from alumna Barbara Dodd Anderson, class of 1950. George School—a coeducational Friends (Quaker) boarding and day school for grades nine through twelve in Newtown, Pennsylvania—will receive payments that will total $128.5 million over a period of twenty years from an irrevocable charitable lead trust.
Ms. Dodd Anderson stated, "This gift is meant to honor not only my father, David Dodd, and his legacy, but also all of the teachers at George School who had such an impact on me and are so important to their students today. I want to help George School because of the excellence of its faculty and because it is a school without pretensions, where caring for and learning from each other are as important as academic success."
"We feel honored and profoundly grateful to receive this gift," stated Head of School Nancy Starmer. "It expresses Barbara’s admiration and appreciation for the quality of a George School education in a way that is truly inspiring."
The gift has its origins with billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Warren Buffett. Barbara’s father, David Dodd, was a renowned economist and professor at Columbia University School of Business. The young Buffett sought out Professor Dodd at Columbia and was a student of his. "My father became a business partner of Warren’s and they were good friends throughout my father’s life," Barbara said. David acquired shares of stock in Warren Buffett’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway, when it was still just a struggling textile company. David put the shares in Barbara’s name, making her an early owner of stock in the company, now a vast holding conglomerate.
When Warren Buffett learned of Barbara’s gift, he remarked, "Any longtime shareholder of Berkshire is appreciably wealthier because of the indirect influence that Dave Dodd had upon our company. As both a teacher and a friend, I revered Dave. I am delighted that his decision to invest in Berkshire has enabled Barbara to honor both her father and George School through this wonderful gift."
Barbara continued, "My father’s professors recognized his own talent and hard work when he was a student at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1930s. They inspired and placed confidence in him. When he became a professor himself, he tried to do the same for his students, one of whom was Warren Buffett. When I was a student at George School, my teachers did the same for me. That was a difficult time in my life, as my mother was very ill, and my teachers not only responded to my interests in the classroom but cared for me personally. George School became a second home for me."
The George School Committee, which is the school’s board of trustees, was notified of the gift this past weekend. George School faculty, staff, current parents, students, and alumni are being notified on Monday evening.
Director of Development Anne Storch said, "Initially, the funds will be used to support current strategic goals of the school, which emphasize three areas key to the school’s mission—student financial aid, faculty and staff compensation, and leadership in the area of environmental sustainability."
Head of School Nancy Starmer said, "George School’s financial aid program has long been one of the top financial aid programs offered by independent schools in this country. Barbara’s gift will help us to uphold our position of leadership in the area of student financial aid, and through it our deep and long-standing commitment to socioeconomic diversity. George School offers aid to a range of students from both low- and middle-income families. This commitment, like our commitment to racial and international diversity, truly distinguishes George School, making it a place where students with widely varying life experiences learn together and from one another."
Nancy continued, "The funds will also help us to maintain competitive compensation for our faculty, allowing us to continue to attract and retain extraordinary teachers at a time when a number of experienced faculty members are reaching retirement age, both nationwide and at George School. In addition, the gift will allow us to pursue some exciting initiatives in the field of environmental sustainability—an area in which we aspire to become a leader and have already made significant progress."