Leaving a Legacy
Think about the impact that the George Washington University has had on your life, on the Washington, D.C. community, and on its alumni and friends worldwide. Now imagine what that impact would be like had you been a part of the GW community since the 1940s.
Professor Emeritus of German, double GW alum and long-term GW Libraries Development Board member James King certainly can. Not only is he able to tell us what tuition was in 1946, he also provides a glimpse into the process of making a planned gift, and how it will continue to make a positive impact at GW for many years to come.
Gelman: What led you to GW?
Professor James King: From June 1942, after graduation from high school, to November 1943, prior to military induction, I was a federal employee in Washington, DC. After my discharge from the U.S. Army in April 1946, I returned to this area. Seeking to begin my higher education, I chose George Washington as an academically sound, non-church-related institution and began my studies in September of that year.
G: Not only did you receive your bachelor's and master's degrees at GW, you also earned your PhD here in 1954. Share with me a little about what it is like to witness the changes over the 65 years you have been a part of the GW community.
JK: The campus was modest in 1946, comprising at most some nine blocks, from 20th to 22nd and G to Eye Streets NW, with the Hall of Government, Lisner Auditorium, and the now-replaced University Hospital at Washington Circle as the most prominent structures. Classrooms were finally air-conditioned in 1955. Not yet independent schools, International Affairs and Business were programs in a School of Government. Most students commuted from home in the absence of adequate residential housing, and there was a large veteran contingent. Can you imagine tuition at twelve dollars an hour?
G: What do you think are the things that distinguish GW from other universities?
JK: Foremost is the centrality of the arts and sciences, the humanities and social studies—a firm basis for professional preparation in business, engineering and applied science, education and human development, international affairs, law, and medicine. Internships in government offices and community service afford additional educational experience.
G: You donated the official two millionth volume to the Gelman Library in 2001. You also became a member of Gelman's Development Advisory Board at its founding in 2004. What led you to become such an ardent supporter of the Gelman Library? What has Gelman meant to you over the years?
JK: Access to library resources has been indispensable to me in my academic development, lecturing, and medieval research. Before Gelman Library, the University Library was housed until 1973 in Lisner Hall at 2023 G Street NW. Countless are the hours that I have spent at both locations, the Library of Congress, and several libraries in Europe. I champion published material, whether printed and bound, or digital/electronic.
G: Why did you choose to donate your home to the Gelman Library? Why was it important to you to leave a legacy to the Library?
JK: In 1995 I established a library acquisition fund, for the purchase of printed books and/or digital/ electronic resources in the arts and sciences. Ultimately, the proceeds from four charitable gift annuities and the sale of my residence will contribute to the fund substantially.
G: Would you recommend this type of giving vehicle to others? How did you find the process?
JK: Once a senior in his or her estate planning has provided adequately for loved ones, any remaining resources should be considered for bequests such as mine. Thanks to the efficient efforts of Jane Kolson, Senior Planned Giving Advisor, and Chase Magnuson, Director of Planned Giving for Real Estate, the process moved flawlessly and took only 65 days.
G: For anyone who is considering this type of gift, what advice would you give (if any?).
JK: The donor should check with his/her attorney and accountant, to determine whether to transfer ownership of a primary residence now while retaining a life-estate tenancy or at estate settlement following death.
Thank you, Professor King.