The news is whipping around the wires, listservs, and the blogs: my alma mater, George School, the Quaker secondary school in Newtown, Pennsylvania, is the recipient of a huge bequest, this press release from the George School site:
George School to Receive $128.5 Million Gift
Issued: September 17, 2007
NEWTOWN, PA, 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."
Turns out that David Dodd, Barbara's father, was Warren Buffet's professor at Columbia Business School. Dodd was "so impressed that after Mr. Buffett returned home to Nebraska and formed an investment partnership, Professor Dodd invested some of his own money for himself and his daughter," according to the NY Times article.
I could write for pages about the value of my George School education. By the time I got to Antioch College ("the little college that might" and see below), I had been trained in research and critical thinking. Our classes were small; we "majored" in particular areas (I was in the English and Literature stream, though I'm not certain it was called precisely that); and our teachers were deeply engaged in our pedagogy. My time there was also one of great sorrow: in five months during my junior year, five people important to the lives of me and my closest friends died, including, most sadly, my father, who died instantly of a massive heart attack when he was 57. I've written extensively about those difficult months, most recently in "When Everyone Dies," a short story based on those events.
Personal difficulty aside, I've been impressed with Nancy Starmer, head of school, who used to be at Milton Academy, and is the first woman to lead George School. And I am very happy that a school that educated many creative people, including my friend the artist, Neelon Crawford, is the recipient of this largess.
Been getting some hits on this post from sondheim.com, a discussion board about Stephen Sondheim, also a George School grad, as were Blythe Danner (mama, Gwyneth Paltrow) and George Segal.