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Chisms make $1 million to Monmouth College

Barry McNamara
Monmouth College alumni Stan ’63 and Karen Barrett Chism ’65 of Palo Alto, Calif., have made three recent gifts to their alma mater, totaling more than $1 million.
The largest gift, in the form of charitable remainder unitrust, supports the sciences in the college’s new Center for Science and Business. A wing of the building, devoted primarily to their undergraduate major of biology, has been named in their honor.
The major gift follows years of active financial support of Monmouth’s academic programs, inspired by the visible impact their support has had on students. “We rarely see the impact of our gifts to larger institutions and organizations, due to their bureaucratic structures,” observed Stan. “However, at Monmouth we can make a difference and that gratifies us.”
A recent gift to Monmouth College of $50,000, presented in conjunction with Stan’s 50th class reunion, will fund a new academic initiative, the Off-Campus Learning Experience Program (OCLEP). Next May, four faculty members will lead an interdisciplinary OCLEP trip to Cuba. Comprising the team will be Marlo Belschner (English), Tim Gaster (modern foreign languages), James Godde (biology) and Dan Ott (religious studies).
The gift continues a tradition by the Chisms to fund unique academic activities that bring faculty and students together for joint intellectual discovery, mirroring their own experience at Monmouth College. “Our goal is to create opportunities for students and faculty to jointly learn about people, culture, arts and sciences, and all important matters,” said Stan. “We want to support the close bonding that we had with many faculty members at Monmouth.”
In 2010, they underwrote “Monmouth on the Rails,” a train excursion to the west coast, which allowed biology students to collect samples from such locations as Salt Lake City, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.
“Monmouth College is profoundly grateful for the Chisms’ support, not only for the Center for Science and Business, but also for off-campus experiences that enrich our students’ education,” said President Mauri Ditzler. “This will be the defining academic building on the campus for decades to come and is essential to the college’s plan for the future. It will help us attract well-prepared and intellectually ambitious students in the sciences and recruit and retain very strong science faculty. The investment in the new building is an investment in the people who will occupy it.”
Stan retired in 2000 as the medical director of radiation oncology at the Cancer Care Institute in San Jose, Calif., which he co-founded. Five years later, he retired from the Radiological Association of Sacramento. Stan, who holds an honorary degree from Monmouth, was inducted into the college’s  Hall of Achievement in 1998. He also received the college’s Young Alumnus Award in 1973 and its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999.
Karen, who has been a trustee at Monmouth College since 1994, is a member of the board’s executive committee and chairs the student affairs committee, reflecting her active participation in campus organizations as a student, which included serving as president of Kappa Kappa Gamma fraternity. The holder of a master’s degree in teaching and an MBA, her distinguished career has spanned education, science and business, primarily as an analyst, researcher and compliance specialist for the pharmaceutical industry. She currently works as an independent pharmaceutical compliance consultant.
“Stan and Karen’s continued support of Monmouth College is truly a testament to the education they received,” said Molly Ball, vice president for development and college relations. “Karen’s commitment to the board of trustees and Stan’s support of programs that will enhance faculty-student interaction is remarkable. They’ve helped the college advance in so many ways. There aren’t enough ways to say ‘Thank you’ for their gifts.”