Jack Ludington, '51
Leaving a legacy through an endowment gift
The late John S. “Jack” Ludington, ’51, had a long history of giving back to Albion College. From serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors to chairing the Albion College Board of Trustees to acting as an Albion ambassador in his hometown of Midland, he was all that you could ask for in an alumnus. Not only was he a devoted volunteer for Albion, but he was a generous donor, supporting numerous building campaigns and establishing an endowed professorship that now bears his name.
It’s not surprising, then, that in the last days of his life Ludington, who was chairman emeritus of Dow Corning Corporation, chose to make one final gift to Albion, this time an undesignated gift to the College’s endowment. As such, his gift will be invested as part of the endowment, and a portion of the income generated will be used in support of the teaching and learning that are at the heart of the Albion experience.
Laura Ludington Hollenbeck, ’78, and Annie Ludington Sullivan, ’82, note that their father believed this gift was the best way for him to help secure Albion’s future.
“My dad always spoke so affectionately of Albion,” Laura says. “He valued the professors he had there and felt his Albion education made possible much of what he achieved in his career. He just knew that he wanted to make one last gift that would make possible those same kinds of experiences for other young people in the years ahead.”
Because endowment funds are invested in perpetuity, they provide a constant, dependable source of income for an institution. At Albion, endowment income helps bridge the gap between what students pay in tuition and the actual cost of their education. No student pays the full cost of his or her education.
Albion’s endowment income currently represents 14 percent of the annual operating budget. These funds support students, directly through scholarships and indirectly through the support of programs, both academic and co-curricular. They support faculty research and professional development, our Institutes and athletic programs, and every activity on campus at some level. According to Mike Frandsen, vice president for finance and administration, “Without the endowment, Albion would not be the institution we know today, and it would not be as well positioned to provide opportunities for future generations.”
Albion’s endowment is currently a healthy $168-million, making it the second largest among private colleges and universities in Michigan, according to figures from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). However, among the members of the Great Lakes Colleges Association, Albion’s endowment is relatively small, with Oberlin College having the largest in that group at nearly five times the value of Albion’s endowment. The College ranks 177th nationally among the 508 private institutions that participated in the NACUBO survey.
The College’s endowment has been built over time through careful stewardship and through charitable gifts. A key goal for the future is to continue this pattern of growth.
“A strong endowment enables an institution to change with the times,” notes President Donna Randall, “and to capitalize on emerging trends. By increasing Albion’s endowment through gifts such as this one from Jack Ludington, we can give the College this much-needed flexibility.”
Jack’s son, Tom Ludington, ’76, is now himself a College trustee and chairs the board’s Finance Committee.
“Dad was able to foresee many of the headwinds that private liberal arts colleges like Albion College would face,” Tom says, “particularly institutions that have traditionally served students from Michigan families. He believed that building Albion’s endowment would be critical to the College’s success in moderating tuition demands on students but also maintaining competitive faculty and staff compensation, a belief shared by the current Board of Trustees. We will put his gift to good use.”
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Sally Stark Cutler, '75
Underwriting a new space for creative learning
As an Albion College student, Sally Stark Cutler, ’75, prepared to be a teacher. And now, living in Gates Mills, Ohio near Cleveland, education remains a common thread in her activities and interests. For several years she headed a non-profit board supporting the Cleveland School of the Arts, a magnet school for inner-city youth, and at the same time she chaired the board for a social services agency that provides job training for people who have disabilities or economic challenges. She is currently a board vice president for the Cleveland Museum of Art, which offers extensive public outreach and educational programming.
Education is central to the philanthropic interests she shares with her husband, Sandy Cutler, chairman and chief executive officer of Eaton Corporation. That commitment recently led them to make a leadership gift creating the new Cutler Commons in Albion’s Stockwell Library. The Cutler Commons, part of a larger renovation plan for the Albion College library complex, has been designed with today’s student in mind, providing spaces geared to group study and team projects, all supported by the latest technology. The new space will also offer a one-stop service desk and a café catering to the campus community and visitors alike.
“The possibilities that we saw in this concept—especially the fact that it makes technology instantly accessible—struck a chord with both of us,” Sally says. “Libraries are changing, with constantly advancing technology for locating and presenting information. If Albion is to remain competitive, the library needs to keep up with these trends. Sandy and I are pleased that we can help make this happen at Albion.”
She adds, “I was also intrigued with the lifelong learning aspect of this project. The library will be a more inviting place to be for everyone, including alumni and area residents.”
A Milwaukee native, Sally says she felt at home at Albion the moment she stepped on campus during her college search. “It had a great feel—I liked that it was a manageable size.” Though she admits she was never a “diehard student,” she appreciates that Albion’s faculty challenged her to grow academically. In an English class, focusing on works from classical Greece through the European Middle Ages, she recalls she was pushed to think in ways she never had before. “I had to really work hard in that class,” she says with a smile.
Her college experience also instilled a sense of responsibility for helping others, she observes. “That was the heart of what Albion was all about.” An active student volunteer during her college days, she has since given her time to numerous projects in the greater Cleveland area, among them the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which recently has saved over 23,000 acres of land from further development in northeast Ohio. “I like wide open spaces,” she explains, noting that natural areas need to be preserved now for future generations to enjoy.
Albion gave her a broad network of friends, she says, and some of those friendships have lasted to this day. “It’s hard for me to believe that I’m being invited to the weddings of my friends’ children. It seems to me that we were the ones who were just getting married. I feel fortunate that I still stay in touch with friends I met on my very first day as a freshman on campus.”
Sally currently serves as an enrollment volunteer, sharing her Albion experience with future students, and she and Sandy also made a major gift in support of the College’s science complex renovation and expansion project several years ago.
She reflects, “Although it’s been said often, Sandy and I believe that it is remarkably true that giving back is one of life’s great privileges.”
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Dr. William H. Bremer, '63
Turning Tragedy Into Triumph
When clinical psychologist, Dr. Barbara E. Bremer, ’68, was killed while riding her bicycle after work in September of 1985 on a country road near Champaign, IL, her older brother, Dr. William H. Bremer, ’63, was certain that he had to use the traumatic experience to do something meaningful. “I was proud that she followed in my footsteps and came to Albion,” he says. “At her memorial service, so many people said that she was so wonderful and made such an impact on their lives.”
Just six years earlier, Bill’s cousin, Lynn Ellen Hulbert, ’61,
died from cancer. Lynn had been an elementary school teacher in central Indiana. Within a short span of time, Bill had lost two significant women in his life, both at the age of 39. “My sister and my cousin could have contributed a lot more to people’s lives if they had not died so young, and I thought maybe I could help in some way.” Since Albion College was a family tradition, it only made sense for Bill and his mother, Esther Plain, to create a scholarship endowment that would provide financial aid for students intending to enter a healing profession. “A lot of qualified students will not make it without help. This will help give qualified people a chance to realize their dreams,”
Bill knows from personal experience the difference that a scholarship can make. While at Albion, he was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship that involved helping his academic counselor, Professor Ewell A. Stowell, with setting up his botany class labs and helping care for the greenhouse. Although much of his time at Albion was spent studying and preparing for medical school, he was also involved in Sigma Chi. This is something he considers to be an important and lasting part of his college experience, as he tended to be a rather shy student. “Looking back, my time at Albion was really one of the happiest times of my life. I remember packing up my VW bug and driving home after graduation, feeling sad that I was leaving,” he says. “It expanded my horizons so that I could see things in a much bigger context.”
After Albion, Bill went on to the Indiana University School of Medicine. He then served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam era as a Lieutenant Commander in the Medical Corps in Sasebo, Japan and on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. He eventually worked as a private practice pediatrician in San Francisco’s Mission District until retiring. For the past four years he has served as the Council President of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church with a congregation mostly of German immigrants, and the only church in northern California to offer services in both English and German.
“There are incidental things that you learn in college that turn out to have unforeseen importance. I had three years of German in high school and two more years at Albion. Although this wasn’t useful as a doctor, now in retirement I’m the president of a German church,” he says. “Sometimes you have to go through a large part of your life before certain things, like speaking German, are found to have value.”
Bill’s experience at Albion is something that not only led to his successful career as a pediatrician, but it helped him succeed in, what he considers to be, his “second calling”. This lifelong impact is one of the many reasons that he feels it’s important to give back to the College. “Albion has made such an impact on so many lives. It’s important to give something back to the institution that enabled you to get where you’re at today. Honoring that life reward is a commendable thing to do.”
Bill says that he wants to give a gift that will keep on giving in honor of the experience that he, Barbara, and Lynn had at Albion College. “One day I’ll be gone. I want to leave some kind of mark that validates my existence and that of my sister, cousin and mother.”
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Roy and Mae Harrison Karro
A couple's 'longstanding generosity' lives on
Long known for its success in sending aspiring doctors to medical school, Albion College announced in early 2011 a new gift to support those students. The Roy G. Karro Trust funded a $1.25-million endowment to establish the Roy and Mae Harrison Karro Scholarship, intended for students planning a career in medicine.
Mae Karro was a 1931 Albion College graduate. In her memory, her husband, Roy Karro, also provided the funding for construction of the Mae Harrison Karro Village, a College-owned apartment complex which opened in 2001.
"The Karros' longstanding generosity to Albion represents a significant investment in our students’ education," said President Donna Randall. "We at Albion College are deeply appreciative of this new endowed scholarship gift, which will continue to assist students long into the future."
Along with providing up to two years' full tuition, the scholarship includes room and board during the recipient’s senior year if living in the Mae Harrison Karro Village.
“Roy and Mae appreciated the difference that a college education had made in their own lives, and they wanted to make similar opportunities available to students today," said Linda Renich, the Karro Trust’s executor and a longtime caregiver for the Karros. "During his visits to campus in recent years, Roy was so impressed with the talent and enthusiasm he saw in Albion’s students. Establishing this scholarship was one way he and Mae could make a meaningful impact in these young people's lives and encourage them to achieve their goals."
While a student at Albion College, Mae Karro majored in literary studies and was involved in Greek-letter organizations and women's intramural athletics. Following her graduation, she became a teacher and then went on to establish a successful real estate agency. She and her husband, a financier who retired in 1999 from Salomon Smith Barney, lived in Southfield, Mich.
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