The Weitz family’s abiding respect for Carleton inspires uncommon leadership and generosity
Much has been made of the $10 million gift the Weitz Family Foundation pledged to Carleton in spring 2005 and completed in 2009, laying a financial foundation for the College’s future and inspiring others to support Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections, the $300 million comprehensive campaign that began in July 2004.
Inside Carleton celebrated the gift with a cover story about the Weitz family and its many Carls. Wallace Weitz ’70 and Barbara Veach Weitz ’70 (pictured at right) were pleased that their three children (Katie ’96, Roger ’99, and Andrew ’02) wanted to attend Carleton. Both Katie and Andrew married Carls: Watie White ’93 and Meredith Doerr Weitz ’02, respectively. Roger’s wife, Kate Noble Weitz, is the only non-Carl in the group, and Barb joked that the family had considered asking Carleton to award Kate an “honorary alumna” certificate just so she wouldn’t feel left out.
“We definitely have a sense of humor about it,” Barb says. “Carleton represents a shared history and it certainly helped shape all of us.”
The Weitz family’s generous gift also put them in Carleton’s history books: Their commitment is the College’s largest single gift ever. Amazingly, though, the Weitzes have continued their extraordinary generosity to Carleton by issuing a challenge to the Board of Trustees: Contribute $85 million (including the Weitzes’ $10 million gift) as a group to the campaign by June 30,
2010, and the Weitz Family Foundation will give an additional $15 million to Carleton for a total gift of $25 million. As of November 1, 2009, Carleton trustees had reached $79 million toward the challenge.
“We wanted to do something to help trustee-giving reach the $100 million mark, or one-third of the total campaign goal,” Wally says. “As much as the $10 million of our initial pledge sounds like a lot, we realized if we were going to ask others to stretch in their giving, we needed to stretch as well, and in doing it, wanted to give the College a creative tool to use in inspiring others.”
Asked how they hope Carleton will use their gift, both Barb and Wally stress that the gift is unrestricted. “We trust the College to use our funds well. If others want to make designated gifts, we’re content to cover the undesignated part of the operating and capital budgets,” says Wally, who has been a Carleton trustee since 2000. He and Barb serve as chairs of the campaign steering committee.
“For example, if it is easier to raise money for scholarships so that Carleton can return to need-blind admissions status (an idea we love), we are happy to pay for more mundane parts of the budget,” Wally says.
For the Weitz family, making an extraordinary investment in Carleton’s future ultimately signals their respect for the College. “It meant the world to us to go to Carleton,” Barb says. “Someone made Carleton possible for us, and now we need to make Carleton possible for others.”