In Honor of Jerry Kohlberg '46

Jerry Kohlberg '46

With the passing of Jerry Kohlberg ’46, Swarthmore College has lost one of its most ardent and loyal supporters whose influence on campus is as far reaching as it may be, by design, unheralded. Read President Valerie Smith's message to the community.

When he retired in 1994, Jerry turned his attention even further to his philanthropic endeavors. While sustained and significant, and representing hundreds of millions of dollars for organizations and issues about which he cared deeply, his philanthropy was not meant for headlines. 

At Swarthmore, he established the Philip Evans Scholar Program to empower students to develop as critical thinkers, compassionate citizens, and engaged participants in local and world affairs. Jerry named the scholarship to honor the memory of Philip Evans '48, his roommate and friend.

"This country is in a crisis; we've lost our way," Jerry said in 2003 at an event for current Evans Scholars and alumni. "Too many people are sitting on the sidelines, complaining but not doing anything about it. There's a crying need for involvement, passion, criticism, and leadership. This is a role we hope you will fill in the future." By any measure, they have. Since the program's inception nearly 30 years ago, more than 100 scholars have made their mark around the country and the world.

Jerry also led the effort to renovate iconic Parrish Hall. Improvements included the careful repair and strengthening of its slate tile roof and the essential but decidedly unglamorous new safety and energy efficient air handling systems. 

Yet of all the ways Jerry supported Swarthmore, it is a program through Career Services that helps students prepare themselves for jobs in business that he cited in an essay last year as the one from which he received “the biggest kick.” In particular, he noted the “Career Closet” that provides suits students can borrow for interviews.

The Kohlberg Foundation has designated Swarthmore College among the potential recipients of gifts in Jerry's honor. 

"We are eternally grateful," says Karl Clauss, vice president for development and alumni relations, "to Jerry and the Kohlberg Foundation for their significant and truly inspirational support of the College."