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K: Thank you for your support of Bard College. There are so many important causes that you could, and likely do, support. Yet, you’ve been quite generous to Bard. Why is Bard worthy of your support?
JM: I appreciate the idea of community--we are in a position to be able to help the students, and I remember really wanting that when I was attending school there--just wanting someone to talk to, someone who was out in the world already. I like being able to bring all the generations of alums together to help each other.
AC: Bard provided a lot of structure for me to grow as a person yet encouraged that development in a way that never felt forced. For that, I will always be grateful, but I support the college to make up for all those things that I felt were missing too. It’s a reciprocal relationship; it helped me grow for those four years, now it’s my turn to help the school.
K: Bard is currently in the second year of the largest and most ambitious campaign in the history of the College. The 150th Anniversary Campaign seeks to raise $594,350,000. What are your hopes for the future of the College and what impact do you think the campaign might have?
JM: I’d like to see more of a focus on the total person. I’d like to see more attention given to sports. Andrew’s done so much work with fundraising for the rugby field and I’m really excited to see the school working with him and supporting the cause. Also, I’m hoping that there will be more of a focus on networking and mentoring--not only for people who have just graduated, but for Bard alums who want to try something new, or start a new project.
AC: I would like to see the campus rounded out more too, but not too much. I’ll always appreciate its minimalism and the creativity it inspired. I would also like to see more graduate programs some day. Frankly, I’d just love the excuse to go back and read books for a couple more years.
K: You are both active and engaged alumni/ae. Have you always kept in touch, or was there a specific event/occurrence that caused you to reconnect?
JM: Actually, I was not active until about two years ago, and I have three men to thank for reconnecting me to the school-- Andrew, of course, because of his dedication to the rugby field, my good friend and former housemate (in Seymour), Terence O’Rourke ‘99, who strong-armed me into being on our 10-year reunion committee, and your Assistant Director of the annual Fund, Brad Whitmore, who has become a good friend and has constantly been a source of information and humor. So thank you, guys. It’s nice to be back.
AC: I had been an occasional donor since I graduated, but my involvement really started when the rugby team lost its field and I formed the campaign to bring it back. So many of my best memories and friendships revolved around that field and I couldn’t let it just slip away. Along the way, I’ve gotten to know the administration and become more involved in other aspects of the school as well, including joining the Board of Governors last spring.
K: Andrew and Jennifer, thanks so much for your time, your generous support of the 150th Anniversary Campaign, and for all that you do for Bard College.
K: Eric, Bard is grateful for your involvement. How and when did your deep relationship with the College begin?
E: It was just a coincidence - an odd occasion. I was working as an intern in a finance company, owned by the cousin of Sally Avery - the widow of Milton Avery. He introduced me to Sally because I had an interest in art. We became friends and I worked for her as well. Sally was acquainted with Matt Phillips, an artist and professor of art at Bard. I met Phillips through Sally as he was encouraging her to become more involved in the College. At the same time, the College was seeking resources for a new art center on campus and hoped to establish a graduate school with an MFA program. I don’t exactly recall the sequence of events, but the end result was the Sally Avery Center for the Arts and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. I was subsequently asked, and accepted, a seat on the Board of Trustees (1981-1985).
K: You’re a Bard alumnus, class of ’98. What made you decide to pursue a degree later in life?
E: I went to Brooklyn College for one day, literally. I had an opportunity to work in a small finance and arbitrage company and began working full-time instead. I’d been encouraged to return to pursue my degree when I was on the Board of Trustees, but it was unrealistic at the time. Then, I started with a few courses and lots of travel. That wasn’t working, but I had a place in Woodstock and eventually decided to move up here and make the commitment to finish my degree. I chose American Studies because it allowed me to study across the spectrum of economics, culture and politics of the Roosevelt period, which is a keen interest of mine. I studied with Dimitri Papadimitriou and had access to the Levy Institute when Hyman P. Minsky was there. It was really an exciting time.
K: Eric, you have been very generous to Bard and in many ways. In fact, last year marked the distribution of the 40th Eric Warren Goldman Scholarship. With so many competing priorities and important causes out there, why do you choose Bard – what is it about Bard College that makes it worthy of your support?
E: Bard continues to exhibit a progressive philosophy and a willingness to accept opportunities and take chances. It took a chance on my involvement and I took a chance on Bard. What President Botstein has done, what the College has done, it’s magnificent. I’m happy to do it. Recently, I’ve taken a more active role in meeting and working with the scholars. It has been the most rewarding experience that I’ve ever had.
K: You were instrumental in creating a Bardians in Finance group as well.
E: With Boriana Handjiyska ’02. Boriana was a Goldman Scholarship recipient in 2001. She eventually went on to Wall Street and got the highest designation with Charter Financial Analysts. She already has a career in the quantitative world.
K: And she is now, like you, on the Bard St. Stephen’s Alumni/ae Association Board of Governors. It speaks to the power of engagement. You mentioned being a catalyst for the development of the Avery Center and you continue to be a catalyst for these scholars and students.
K: As you know, the 150th Anniversary Campaign is the largest and most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of Bard College. What are your hopes for the future of the College and what do you think this campaign might help to accomplish?
E: That ambition is great. However, there may be a deficiency in the responsibility that alumni/ae take for the future of the College. The Board of Governor’s has established an endowed scholarship fund as part of the campaign, to which alumni/ae and friends can contribute. I hope to see it grow and to institutionalize participation and support from alumni/ae. It’s important to give back and make the opportunities we enjoyed available to future students.
K: The Board of Governor’s has raised $872,462 for that fund. It’s the first time the Board of Governor’s has embarked on such an effort and the result is amazing.
E: It’s a fund that I hope will continue to generate resources over the years and will benefit many students at Bard College. It is also a fund that Board members and alumni/ae and friends can continue to build. Another interesting point is that my conversations with Walter Swett ’96, who was a Goldman scholar and was formerly president of the Bard-St. Stephen’s Alumni/ae Association Board of Governor’s, led to this idea and asking the BOG members to do this.
K: Eric, thank you – thank you for the interview and thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do for Bard College.