(Science + Math) x Determination = Success
“I am a chemical engineer gone astray.”
That’s how Robert Donaldson ’51 once described his natural evolution from a chemical engineer to an entrepreneur. Growing up in New Jersey, he was determined from an early age to pursue chemical engineering. And even though his father and grandfather were Cornell graduates, the family was understanding when Clarkson captured his heart. Bob was a very focused student. “I wanted to learn a discipline and then move into business. Clarkson taught me to be an engineer; it gave me the foundation from which I could build,” says Bob. After Clarkson, Bob spent two years in the military, including one year of combat duty in Korea, before taking a position with Kodak and earning his Master of Science degree in Industrial Statistics from the University of Rochester in 1957.
Bob enjoyed a successful career as an entrepreneur, international business manager, investment banker, venture capitalist, management consultant, strategic planner and start-up specialist. He founded Delta Planning, a management consulting firm, in 1979 after serving as a production engineeer with Eastman Kodak, a consultant with McKinsey & Co. and manager of the International Division at Diamond Shamrock, as well as an investment banker with Prescott Ball Turben, and a venture capitalist with Clarion capital. A licensed professional engineer in New York, New Jersey and Ohio, and a Fellow of the Financial Analyst Federation, Bob has received accolades and awards, including being selected “Entrepreneur of the Year” for his entrepreneurship initiatives such as founding both the Ohio Venture Association and The Venture Association of New Jersey, and his pro bono work with start-up organizations.
Bob’s support of Clarkson over the years has been as varied as his career, with his gifts to The Clarkson Fund providing the foundation of his efforts. Bob has served as a speaker on and off campus, as a phonathon volunteer and as an admissions representative. Most recently, his efforts attracted a student from Kenya, currently a sophomore majoring in biology. Bob received the Charles Ehrlich Alumni Admission Award in 2011 in thanks for his many years of service. Now, Bob is branching out into other areas of support by planning both a bequest and a gift annuity for Clarkson. “Supporting Clarkson is not an obligation. It’s a duty that I enjoy and I am proud to help other generations benefit from the same Clarkson education that prepared me for success,” says Bob. “Combining engineering and entrepreneurship has been important to my career, and I want to help foster an atmosphere at Clarkson where students and faculty are encouraged to commercialize the innovative technologies they develop. My bequest and annuity will someday create an endowment to support start-up companies in the chemical and biomolecular engineering areas at Clarkson.”
Bob’s generosity and planning may well be the catalyst in the formula for success for many determined generations of Clarkson students.
The “formula” for Bob Donaldson’s gift plan:
- Bob’s planning provides for other family members as well as providing for Clarkson
- His bequest is planned in his living trust, providing flexibility into the future
- The gift annuity provides a generous annual payout for Bob’s lifetime
- Bob funded the annuity with cash, which generates a substantial level of tax-free income back to him
- His gift for the annuity generated an immediate income tax charitable deduction
- Both his bequest and his annuity count in Clarkson’s E2E fundraising campaign
- The bequest and the annuity also counted at full value in Bob’s 60th reunion in 2011
- Someday both the bequest and the annuity will fund an endowment at Clarkson to support the creation of start-up companies in chemical engineering, biomolecular engineering and other enterprises.
Bob Donaldson '51 (right) with some family members, from left, son Evan, daughter-in-law Karen and son Cooper
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