Alumnus donates $140 million for expansion at Claremont McKenna College

by Steven Felschundneff |

On Friday Claremont McKenna College announced that billionaire alumnus George Roberts had given the college $140 million to “expand and fully develop the eastern half of the campus.”

The donation by Roberts, who graduated in 1966, will help the college expand its campus east of Claremont Boulevard, including new athletic facilities and buildings. In 2012 he gave CMC $50 million to build the Roberts Pavilion, a three-story athletic facility off of Sixth Street.

“I hope this gift enables CMC to ensure its place as the college for the future, and provides the education and experience to help deserving young people contribute and compete in the world of the future,” Roberts said.

The CMC Board of Trustees has designated all college land east of Mills Avenue “The Roberts Campus.”

“Through the gift … CMC will double the footprint of its residential Claremont campus to over 150 acres to prepare current and future generations of leaders in business, government, and the professions. The plan includes new academic facilities and student housing, recreation and playing fields, and enhanced pedestrian walkways and gathering spaces to encourage engagement and interaction,” CMC officials said in a statement.

The $140 million, along with donations from 11,000 others, brings total fundraising for the school’s recent campaign to $916 million.

In August the architectural commission granted Claremont McKenna a modification to its master plan to accommodate the construction of the Robert Day Sciences Center, which is partially funded by the Roberts gift, and $40 million from the W.M. Keck Foundation. The center is scheduled to begin construction this summer at the corner of Ninth Street and Claremont Boulevard.

At that same meeting, the college announced its plan to reconfigure Claremont Boulevard between Ninth and Sixth streets to make the thoroughfare more pedestrian-friendly. This improvement was requested in anticipation of significantly increased foot traffic once the athletic facilities are built east of Claremont Boulevard.

CMC developed the master plan, which covers 30 years of projected growth, over a decade ago and the document was approved by the city in 2012. The plan includes moving some athletic fields from their current location providing more room of academic buildings.

“Throughout its 75 years, CMC has continually endeavored to raise expectations. Whatever plateau we may have reached today, it is not about the hill we just climbed; it is about the next mountain we are about to ascend,” said CMC President Hiram E. Chodosh.

Roberts, 78, co-founded global investment firm KKR with his cousin, Henry Kravis, and Jerome Kohlberg in 1976. Roberts serves as executive co-chairman of the private equity firm, which oversees almost $500 billion in assets. He has a net worth of $10.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, according to Bloomberg.

Kravis, who is also a CMC alumnus, donated $75 million to the college through the Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, and those funds were used to build the Kravis Center at 888 N. Columbia Avenue.



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