A $15 million donation to Williams was announced yesterday by President Schapiro in an all-campus mailing.

a Williams alumnus has made a $15.75 million commitment to The Williams Campaign — one of the largest contributions the College has ever received. In recognition of this generous gift, the Board of Trustees has voted to name the new student center in the donor’s honor. To carry on the name of the College’s tenth president, the donor has requested that the central gathering place in this beautiful new building be called Baxter Hall.

New coverage is provided in the Transcript and the Eagle, presumably from identical conversations with Jim Kolesar, Director of Public Affairs. Both articles review some of the major gifts at Williams over the last decade or so, including large gifts from Edgar Bronfman ’50 and Herb Allen ’62.

In any event, today’s parlor game is to Name That Donor. Alas, EphBlog’s sources are not what they should be among the big money crowd, so our speculation is ill-informed at best. Perhaps we can begin by eliminating Allen and Bronfman. Schapiro reports in his letter that the donor was a scholarship recipient at Williams and both of those men come, I think, from wealthy families.

The donor is a male alumnus, no mention is made of it as being a gift from a couple. So, either there is no wife involved or she has no connection/interest in Williams.

Large gifts are, perhaps, more likely to be made in the vicinity of reunion years, thereby allowing the donor’s class to count the money as part of its fundraising efforts. Although perhaps this is more an effect of donations from small donors being larger during reunion years. None of the recent big donations seems to have been announced during the donor’s reunion year, although it is difficult to know if any were counted toward class fund raising goals.

It is hard to know if the donor is a current trustee. Certainly any alumnus with this kind of wealth [You mean “love for Williams” and “generosity of spirit.” — ed] would be welcome as a trustee. But many large donors, like Allen and Bronfman, are not trustees.

No mention is made in Schapiro’s letter about previous generosity from the donor. That might suggest that this is the donor’s first major gift to Williams, thereby eliminating folks like George Steinbrenner ’52 as well as Allen and Bronfman, but perhaps Schapiro just didn’t mention it.

Although the donor is anonymous for now, he has allowed (requested? demanded?) the new student center to be named after him. So, whatever he is, the new donor is not . . . uh . . . shy. The politics around the naming
of campus landmarks is a topic for another day. The exact amount of the donation is $15,750,000 which is an interestingly non-round number. Note that it is close to 40% of the total cost of the student center, similar to Allen’s $20 million gift in relation to the $50 million new theatre.

So, we want a very rich but not shy Williams grad from a not-wealthy family without a history of major gifts to the College, probably not a current trustee, perhaps approaching a major reunion.

My guess: Steve Case ’80, just in time for his 25th reunion and requiring only around 5% of his holdings in Time Warner stock.

Other ill-informed speculation, anonymous or otherwise, would be welcome.

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