The Young and the Generous
Harper Reed ’01 says he never expected to give a gift to Cornell.
“I couldn’t afford it, or it seemed like something other people did,” he says. “Then I was talking to friends who gave an endowed scholarship to another college, and they said you don’t have to endow a scholarship, you can just say I want to give 2,500 bucks toward a scholarship. I thought, $2,500, we probably spend that on eating out, and this is something achievable for us.
“As I thought more about it, I realized we could endow a scholarship now.”
Reed—best known as the chief technology officer of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign—and partner Hiromi Nakazawa ’01—a senior manager at Deloitte Tax—endowed a scholarship in 2015 for students who are underrepresented in the Cornell student body. By endowing the scholarship at $50,000, they ensured it will exist in perpetuity. They were 37 years old.
In 2018 Reed, now a Cornell Trustee, established the Freeman Endowed Scholarship with David Keith ’01.
“I reached out to Harper for advice on a startup,” Keith recalls. “He mentioned that he was thinking about funding a second scholarship, and I was all-in as I was looking for ways to invest the money I earned when Google acquired my former employer.”
They named their joint scholarship after their mentor, Professor of Mathematics Jim Freeman.
“Even after college Jim would visit me in Minneapolis, when he had the chance, to provide further advice and introduce me to up-and-coming students,” Keith says.
“He was the fun professor who helped us grow and do the right stuff,” Harper adds. “He made me thoughtful about what I was doing and where I was going. How do we honor someone who was so impactful to us? I knew Jim would be a little embarrassed. But it is important to look at those people who really help us and honor them in some way.”
Another younger donor making an impact on the campus is Stephanie Froehlich ’05, who gives $10,000 each year to the Annual Fund and the Cornell Scholars program (for scholarships). The head of marketing and research at Nasdaq in New York City says she does this so more people can have the Cornell experience.
“The experience I had at Cornell was unforgettable. The friendships I made and the skills I learned are something I will have with me forever,” she says. “I think it is important to support Cornell so that other students from around the world can benefit from a similar experience.”
She says she chose the Annual Fund because she wants to help the college constantly improve, and the Cornell Scholars in order to share the Cornell experience with students who otherwise may not be able to attend.
“It is a truly rewarding way not only to give back to your college but to stay engaged with what is happening on campus,” she says. “Additionally, I think it is impactful when you are able to actually see your funds at work. With many other charitable gifts, it is hard to see a specific change. With this, I know that my giving is going toward necessary and innovative improvements to continually support the Cornell community.”
Reconnecting with Cornell
Erica Osmundson Reimers ’98 believes giving is a great way to reconnect with the college.
“Maybe you’ve gotten busy and this is an opportunity for you to rekindle and deepen that relationship with Cornell,” she says. “It’s a chance for you to come back to campus and get together with a faculty member, or rekindle some friendships.”
As a member of the Alumni Board, Reimers says she sees how important it is for alumni to give either financially or of their time. “A small school really relies on that,” she says.
Her husband Chad is not a Cornell alumnus, but he has become close to her Cornell friends—and even the Cornell community—and deeply values her Cornell experience.
“As a spouse, at first when Erica would say we were going to Cornell for an event, I’d look at it as I have to go to this event,” Chad Reimers says. “Somewhere along the way it morphed into I get to go back.”
“Part of giving back and sharing means that you are receiving as well. I think sometimes people see a dollar amount leaving their checking account and think they are not getting anything back,” says Reimers, who oversees the couple’s household of four children ages 15, 14, 12, and 9. “I received scholarships because someone did that before me. I could not have afforded Cornell if I didn’t have that assistance.”