Colby has received several gifts totaling $450,000 from alumni, whose support of the College stems from their profound experiences on Mayflower Hill.
In support of economics
Colby is pleased to accept two gifts totaling $200,000 from the Alan and Gay Quimby Auerbach Trust to support the College’s Economics Department. Gay Quimby Auerbach ’73 majored in English and classics at Colby and took a single economics course during her time on Mayflower Hill, taught by the late Grossman Professor of Economics Jan Hogendorn.
She wishes she had taken more economics courses and hopes the couple’s gift will allow the department to continue to grow and thrive. “I feel very strongly that voters should understand the basics of economics and how economists think about important policy matters. I would love to see every undergraduate take economics,” she said.
Alan Auerbach is the Robert D. Burch Professor of Economics and Law and director of the Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance at the University of California, Berkeley. The Auerbachs made the gift “in honor of Alan’s profession,” Gay Auerbach said.
The couple met during graduate school at Harvard. “I went to graduate school for English, and he was a Ph.D. candidate in economics. I left with a master’s degree, and he became a public finance economist,” she said.
Although they live on the West Coast, Auerbach returns to Maine frequently to visit family and friends. She enjoys touring the Colby College Museum of Art and is pleased with Colby’s investment in downtown Waterville.
“Investing in the community is smart economics,” she said. “The College originally was downtown, and it’s obvious that Colby takes downtown Waterville very seriously. I like what they are doing in Waterville very much.”
“Supporting departments or programs that are important to you with no restrictions is an incredible opportunity for the College. It really is a win-win for the donor and Colby,“ said Brooke Carter Sukhavasi, senior associate director of gift planning. “It has enabled the Auerbachs to have the impact they want but the department still has the flexibility to use the funds for their greatest needs.”
Auerbach said the couple plans to continue supporting economics at Colby and hopes their gift inspires others to donate. “I would like to encourage other people to join us. A gift like this is a great way to make a real impact on subjects and topics of interest to you.”
An unrestricted legacy gift
Colby is grateful to Ben Thorndike ’78 for his legacy gift of $150,000, payable through an IRA beneficiary designation. Thorndike, head of infrastructure investor relations at Manulife Investment Management, formerly John Hancock, sees this capstone gift as a natural progression of his support of the College.
“The first third of my adult life I made relatively modest annual gifts to Colby,” said Thorndike, who lives in Boston and Cape Cod. “The next third, I was fortunate to find ways to do something more creative, and I worked with the development team to set up a scholarship for a classmate who passed away. And this last third, it’s all about estate planning, legacy, and gratitude. Estate planning is a creative way to make a real difference, and that’s the path I decided to go down.”
A beneficiary designation is a key component of effective estate planning, which involves caring for yourself and your assets while you are living and planning for the orderly transfer of assets to other people and organizations, both during your life and afterward.
“Making a planned gift is one of the most popular and flexible ways to leave a lasting legacy at Colby,” said Byron Glaus, leadership gift officer at Colby. “Bequests and other testamentary gifts have been, and continue to be, a significant source of support while simultaneously allowing donors to achieve more than they thought possible with their philanthropy. A planned gift makes it possible for donors, their loved ones, and Colby to all benefit.”
Through a beneficiary designation, a donor distributes IRAs, commercial annuities, and other assets at death. An IRA or annuity administrator will distribute those assets according to a beneficiary designated by the donor.
Thorndike’s gift will be paid in lump sum to the College, without restrictions. Colby can spend it as it sees best, he said. “At the end of the day, I like a lot of things about Colby,” he said. “I believe that if you want to support students, don’t put any parameters on it.”
Thorndike, president of the Class of ’78 who is planning the 45th reunion in June 2023, is proud of his association with Colby and hopes his gift will inspire others to “step up” and include Colby in their estate planning. He said arranging a legacy gift to be paid through his estate has given him peace of mind.
“The emotional aspect of doing this is very comforting and meaningful,” he said.
Endowed financial aid fund honors 50-year friends
Colby is pleased to accept a $100,000 gift from Leslie Anderson ’71 and her husband, Dan Nygaard, to establish the Highland Lake Fund, an endowed financial aid fund named in honor of Colby classmates who remain friends today.
“I made lifelong friendships at Colby, and I hope this fund will help students do the same today,” she said.
An English major with a minor in French, Anderson has made a career in nonprofit development, high tech, and fine art. She has always donated money to Colby, and as she prepared for her 50th reunion, she and her husband decided to explore a larger gift.
For tax purposes and to maximize opportunities for charitable giving, the couple’s financial advisor told them they could distribute a portion of their mandatory withdrawals from their IRAs directly to Colby and other organizations they want to support. Working with Colby’s Advancement Office, Anderson arranged a $100,000 gift over five years.
“What I want to stress is that we are not rich. We are comfortable, and we live simply and frugally, and we find ourselves with more money than we need to live for the rest of our lives,” said Anderson, noting that she and her husband do not have children. “Our very good financial advisor said, ‘If you want to maximize your charitable giving, have your IRA distributions go directly to the organizations you want to support.’ So that’s what we did.”
An individual’s IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other qualified retirement plans can provide a tax-smart way to make an impact on Colby. The qualified charitable distribution, which is sometimes called an IRA charitable rollover, is a great way to make a tax-free gift to Colby, said Director of Leadership and Planned Giving Valerie Sherman.
A gift of retirement plan assets could be right for individuals who, like Anderson and her husband, do not expect to need all their assets, or for those who have other assets, such as real estate or securities, to pass on to heirs and loved ones, Sherman said.
“IRA accounts are ideal for making gifts to Colby and other favorite causes because the assets will be taxed if given to living heirs,” Sherman said. “Donors can make a qualified charitable distribution from their IRA accounts or can include Colby as a beneficiary of the account, transferring the assets to Colby tax free.”