Fiat the Power of Philanthropic Investment, Interest, and an Alfred University Education

Alfred University Life Trustee and Board chair emeritus Robert McComsey ’66, ’07 HD, tells the story of how, in 1981, when he became founding partner in the financial advising firm of Neuberger Berman, he made a $100,000 endowed scholarship gift to his alma mater. When he tells the story, it is often accompanied by a reference to Albert Einstein’s declaration that compound interest is the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Nearly four decades after Bob made his initial philanthropic investment in our University, he appears to have proven the validity of Einstein’s assertion. Given that our endowment has averaged an investment return of 10.64 percent per year over that past four decades, the $100,000 scholarship established by Bob in 1981 would be worth roughly $5.2 million today had the earnings not also been partially devoted to supporting many Alfred University students along the way. The compounded returns earned on Bob’s initial investment thus have allowed both for significant growth in the real value of the original scholarship endowment while enhancing our University’s ability to transform student lives and thereby better our world.

This academic year, endowments created by members of our Board of Trustees are funding scholarships which benefit 60 students. Many of these students attended a recent dinner to meet and thank their benefactors. 

Trustee Marlin Miller and several students attended a recent Board dinner in honor of some of our scholarship donors and recipients.
Trustee and Board chair emeritus Marlin Miller ’54, ’89 HD, ’19 HD, and several students who are presently benefiting from Marlin’s generous scholarship support and attended a recent Board dinner in honor of some of our scholarship donors and recipients.

At the same dinner hosted during our Board of Trustee meetings, Trustee and Board chair emeritus Gene Bernstein ’69 announced the establishment of an endowed scholarship honoring former Alfred University president Charley Edmondson and his wife, Laura Greyson, former professor of political science and director of our Women’s Studies program. The scholarship­­—with an initial investment exceeding $210,000—will be used annually to help an undergraduate student earn a bachelor’s degree at Alfred University. 

Dr. Garth Ehrlich ’77 recently made a $600,000 Heritage Circle bequest to our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that included scholarship commitments in honor of his late mother, Evelyn Ehrlich, who served on the staff at Herrick Library from 1967-80, and the late John Stull, a physics professor at Alfred University and founder of our University’s Stull Observatory. Garth—who had previously created an endowed scholarship honoring his late father, Robert Ehrlich, a mathematics professor at Alfred University from 1967-80—also committed to endowing a lecture series in our College of Liberal Art and Sciences.

We are incredibly grateful to Norman and Sarah Keyes, parents of Mary-Hall Keyes ’19, for creating opportunities for faculty, staff, and students in our School of Art and Design to utilize a seacoast property in Maine for collaborative and creative projects, curriculum development, and skill building.

Norman and Sarah, inspired by their daughter’s wonderful experience at Alfred University, also facilitated an anonymous $1 million endowment gift to establish a Special Projects Fund for our School of Art and Design. The Fund will support academic innovation and collaboration, student scholarships, visiting professorships, and other programs aimed at enhancing educational opportunities in our School of Art and Design.

Alfred University is fortunate to benefit from the generosity of so many donors like Gene Bernstein, Marlin Miller, and Bob McComsey and their Board colleagues; alumni like Garth Ehrlich ’77; and friends like Norman and Sarah Keyes. 

Please join me in acknowledging and thanking these philanthropic leaders.

Fiat the power of philanthropic investment, interest, and an Alfred University education!