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$1.5 million alumni donation strenthens CLS

A gift from two alumni has brought an endowed deanship and a new source of funding to the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS).

Patricia Jipp Finkelman ’80, a trustee of the College, and Daniel Finkelman ’77, her husband, donated 1.5 million dollars to create an endowed fund for use by the CLS to help support and expand a variety of programs that help students. The gift created an endowed deanship at the CLS—Mark Peltz is the inaugural Finkelman Dean.

Photo by Eric Mistry
Photo by Eric Mistry
Photo by Eric Mistry
Photo by Eric Mistry

The Finkelmans have a long history of contributing to Grinnell with both time and money. Patricia is on the Board of Trustees and has served as president of the Grinnell College Alumni Council. Dan has taught short courses and seminars on campus and provided internships for many Grinnellians.

“They believe deeply in the education that Grinnell College provides and they believe equally in supporting the College and doing all that we can to help students figure what’s going to happen for them after college,” Peltz said.

Though the gift creates a deanship, the money goes to the CLS rather than the Dean.

“Ultimately, what Dan and Patricia decided was to endow the Dean of the Center,” Peltz said. “Essentially, what this creates is a thrust of financial support into the Center’s programming for students. The dollars don’t go to my salary, but it’s a good way to acknowledge and celebrate the gift by endowing the position, and it provides the dean of the CLS with resources to then invest in a program.”

The gift will be placed into an endowed fund for use by the CLS. Endowed funds are a common way the College makes large donations like the Finkelman’s usable for a long period of time.

“The Finkelman gift is a gift in perpetuity,” Peltz said. “The College has a very systematic process for how that works. The funds need to be invested for a period of time, and then the proceeds are spent. We follow the College’s spending formula for endowed funds, which I believe right now is about four percent. So about four percent of the 1.5 million will be the annual pullout of that fund. So, the 1.5 million dollars will never go away; we’ll never actually spend it. It really speaks to the College’s commitment to ensuring that we can sustain programs over a long period of time.”

Four percent of the Finkelman’s endowment will generate 60,000 dollars for the CLS to use annually.

Peltz sees the fund helping to support and expand current CLS programming, as well as funding new and innovative projects to help students.

“One [of] the things that was stipulated in the College’s strategic plan was this whole notion that students would not forgo a summer internship opportunity because we didn’t have the resources to support them,” Peltz said.

“Right now, we can’t support every student that applies for internship funding,” he added. “We do the majority, but we can’t do all of them; the gift helps chip away at that. We’ve also discussed here in the CLS about how we can get certain resources or training to students. I’m a big supporter of the alumni externships. We’ve seen a great deal of good experiences from those for students and alumni. We start a lot of these programs as pilot projects and then have to figure out ways to help fund them.”

Other programs that may see increases are industry tours, like the one last fall that helped students connect with alumni and potential employers as they toured Silicon Valley on a CLS program.

One of the goals of the CLS is to help students get real world experience while still at Grinnell, and to bridge their studies and passions into practical applications.

“That can happen through internships, job shadowing, externships and other experiences. Dan and Patricia’s gift will help us make those things happen,” Peltz said. “Those things often have a resource cost to them, and we often have to figure out where we will get those resources. Dan and Patricia’s gift give us the flexibility to direct those resources to the greatest need or most pressing program.”

The Finkelman’s gift comes amid many stories in the media discussing the challenges facing liberal arts-style schools and their focus on “non-practical” fields of study.

“When you look at the disciplinary makeup of a liberal arts college, there aren’t many disciplines that jump out at you that have very linear ‘study X, do Y’—a  tightly coupled relationship between field of study and the world of work, like accounting,” Peltz said. “We are not that, and I would argue that, as we think about the kind of education that is the most appropriate as you consider the changing marketplace, we need students that have skill sets or toolbox that is pretty flexible, pretty malleable. How will you draw upon your education as you navigate your career? When I think about the multiple jobs that people will have in a career, or the jobs people will have that don’t even exist yet—social media consultant was not a job 10 years ago—how can we help students develop the skills and expand their network for the best success?”

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    Drake Ballew '09Feb 9, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Huzzah! It’s great to see alums taking initiative to improve the Grinnell experience.