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Latest News: Press Release

George School to Honor History-Making Philanthropist Barbara Dodd Anderson at Dedication Ceremony

Wednesday, October 14, 2009  
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Leading independent school philanthropist Barbara Dodd Anderson will open a new chapter in her historic story of giving to George School when she welcomes the current generation of scholars to the school’s newly constructed, green Learning Commons and Mollie Dodd Anderson Library on Saturday, October 17, 2009, at an 11:00 a.m. dedication ceremony.

Mrs. Dodd Anderson’s twelve-year-old book-loving granddaughter Mollie, the library’s namesake, will cut the ceremonial ribbon with her grandmother, who donated $5 million to the library in 2006.

Businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffett, Barbara’s longtime friend, is scheduled to appear with her at a 10:30 a.m. press conference and the 11:00 a.m. ceremony to speak about Barbara’s late father, renowned Columbia University economist David Dodd, who was a mentor and friend to Mr. Buffett.

The press conference will take place in the Conference Room of the new building, which stands on the south end of George School’s Newtown, Pennsylvania campus at the intersection of Farm Drive and Meetinghouse Lane. The ceremony will take place outside the building.

Barbara made national headlines when she donated $128.5 million to George School—a coeducational Friends (Quaker) boarding and day school for grades nine through twelve—from which she graduated in 1950. The largest single gift ever given to an existing U.S. independent school, Barbara’s donation earned her the thirteenth spot on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “Philanthropy 50” list in 2007.

Barbara stated, “There are only a few places that one can truly call home. George School was one of those places for me. The teachers helped me to grow both academically and personally in a way that has influenced me throughout my life. It will be wonderful to show my granddaughter and my father’s good friend the unpretentious school that has meant so much to me.”

When asked about his appearance at the dedication, Warren commented, “I am honored that Barbara has invited me to share this event with her. I would not be who I am today without David Dodd. He admitted me to Columbia Business School, where I benefited enormously from his teaching. He treated me like a son, and invested in my partnership for his daughter. Barbara is a terrific person, and her father would be very proud of her. Through her philanthropy at George School, she has planted a tree that future generations will sit under.”

Barbara’s more than two decades of philanthropy at George School have origins with Warren’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway. Thanks to shares of stock that her father put in her name, Barbara became an early shareholder of the company—now a vast holding conglomerate—when it was still a struggling textile company. One-third of the trust she created for George School through her $128.5 million gift is funded by Berkshire Hathaway stock. Other highlights of Barbara’s history of giving to George School include a faculty chair that she established in David Dodd’s name in 1995, and a merit scholarship created in 1993 that provides tuition aid to up to sixteen students each year.

Head of School Nancy Starmer said, “It will be a privilege for our community to honor Barbara for making our new library possible. Her support of the new building is just one of the stunning ways in which she has sustained the quality of a George School education, and we are profoundly grateful for her extraordinary support and loyalty.”

Pat Bassett, president of the National Association of Independent Schools, stated, “Barbara Dodd Anderson is an exceptional figure in the landscape of independent school philanthropy. The financial model for independent schools is built on three legs: tuition, annual giving, and endowment. The latter two depend on the generosity of a school’s community—trustees, parents, grandparents, patrons, and alumni. Barbara’s commitment to George School sets an inspiring example for the communities of independent schools across the country.”

The dedication ceremony marks Barbara and Mollie’s first visit to the library named in Mollie’s honor. Described by her grandmother as a cerebral, advanced reader with an impressive vocabulary, Mollie is fond of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Barbara said, “I am so proud of my granddaughter. She has read almost everything in her school’s library. The Mollie Dodd Anderson Library commemorates her love of reading in a way that is deeply meaningful to me. I am thrilled that current and future students and teachers at George School will be able to rely on such a magnificent academic resource.”

A more than 26,400-square-foot building, the Learning Commons and Anderson Library encompasses the Anderson library, five classrooms, and a learning center. Following fifteen months of construction and seven years of planning, the building opened for student use with the start of the 2009-10 school year. Within the Anderson Library—which contains space for three times the number of visitors that fit in George School’s previous library—students can take advantage of four group study rooms, twenty-six computer workstations, twenty-three study carrels, and a number of other seating areas in order to work on group projects, meet with their advisors, or engage in quiet study. The building is designed to earn gold-level certification under the LEED system—the national standard for environmentally friendly building design, construction, and operation. Among its various green features are a vegetative roof, geothermal heating and cooling, ample use of natural light, and six surrounding rain gardens.

All of the donors—alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends—who contributed to the Learning Commons and Anderson Library have been invited to the dedication ceremony. All current students and their parents have also been invited as part of Visiting Day, an annual campus event—scheduled for the same date—that provides opportunities for parents to learn about their children’s classes.

The ceremony will include remarks by Head of School Nancy Starmer and George School junior Rex Roskos of Trevose, Pennsylvania, the vice president of the school’s student council. Scheduled student performers include violinist Ahmin Chung (a senior from East Brunswick, New Jersey) and a group of singers: Noorjahan Akbar (a senior from Afghanistan), Asa Brooker (a freshman from Bronx, New York), Elizabeth Croce (a junior from Deland, Florida), Alex Friedman (a senior from Chevy Chase, Maryland), Sharon Hou (a sophomore from Beijing, China), Simon James (a sophomore from Ardmore, Pennsylvania), Audrianna Meledandri (a freshman from Center Valley, Pennsylvania), Katelyn Richerts (a sophomore from Holland, Pennsylvania), and Nadia Ross (a freshman from Cheverly, Maryland).