Gil and Barbara Kemp Make $10 Million Gift to Swarthmore

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2006
Contact:  Tom Krattenmaker     
610-328-8534                    
http://www.swarthmore.edu/news/

Gil and Barbara Kemp Make $10 Million Gift to Swarthmore

SWARTHMORE, Pa.—President Alfred H. Bloom announced today that Giles K. (Gil) Kemp and Barbara Guss Kemp have pledged $10 million to Swarthmore College. The funds will endow a professorship in the name of Kemp's father, Dr. Walter Kemp, among several other uses.

 "This magnificent gift constitutes an extraordinary contribution to the present and future quality of Swarthmore College," President Alfred H. Bloom said. "It comes from dear friends of this college whose own acute intelligence, global perspective, ethical practice, care for others, and commitment to a more generous world vividly define the deepest purposes of a Swarthmore education."

 Gil Kemp, a 1972 Swarthmore graduate and Scarsdale, N.Y., resident, is the founder and president of Home Decorators Collection, a Missouri-based home-merchandise retailer that was recently acquired by The Home Depot.

A longtime supporter of his alma mater, Kemp is currently a member of Swarthmore's Board of Managers and chair of the Annual Fund. His new gift is among the most generous made to Swarthmore in the current "Meaning of Swarthmore" fund-raising campaign.

"To be able to make this commitment now, in the last year of the campaign, is thrilling and serendipitous," Kemp said. "We couldn't think of anything we wanted to change about our lifestyle, so the question became how to make a difference for others. Swarthmore is a strong and vital model of educational excellence, an institution where students develop the resolve to shape a better world."

 A sum of $2 million will endow the professorship in the natural sciences, named in honor of Kemp's 93-year-old father, a retired psychiatrist. The first appointee is Professor of Biology Rachel Merz, a distinguished teacher and scholar. "My father has always been an inspiration to me, and while we can never repay all that our parents give us, I know this will bring him joy," Kemp said. "He is a great believer in both science and education."

 A sum of $1 million from the gift will be used to establish an endowment for a campus house that serves as guest quarters, an entertainment venue, and the residence of the vice president for development, alumni, and public relations. The facility will become the "Dan and Sidney West House," named in honor of Vice President Dan C. West and his wife, Sidney Childs West.

 "Dan and Sidney bring a very special warmth and hospitality to anyone who enters their home," Kemp said, "and we want to celebrate all they have meant to Swarthmore." 

The remaining $7 million will fund a future building construction project as determined by the Board.

The historic gift follows closely Kemp's recent pledge to renovate the College's athletic locker rooms in honor of his former track and cross country coach, Joe Stefanowicz. "Joe was an excellent coach who touched the lives of hundreds of Swarthmore runners," said Kemp, who still holds the College record in the outdoor mile.

The Kemps' gift brings to $223 million the amount raised to date in the College's $230 million "Meaning of Swarthmore" fund-raising campaign, which runs through December 31, 2006.