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Rosemary MacDonald '81

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Creating a Legacy at Clarkson
October 2011

“Imagine you’re 87 years old, in your rocking chair, looking back on life. What would you be most proud of? What would be your legacy?” That’s how Rosemary Brown MacDonald ’81 described an epiphany she had some years after graduating from Clarkson. “Our experience at Clarkson prepared and challenged us to go out and make a difference in the world. But how do we make a difference that is unique and fulfilling for each of us, so that later in life we can be proud of the legacy we have created?” says Rosemary. “I thought of what was important to me, and realized that a college education was critical. I reflected on my time at Clarkson and suddenly realized that part of my personal legacy would be helping others access a Clarkson education.”

Rosemary has a history of thinking creatively. As a high school student she had never heard of Clarkson; she lived in Boca Raton, Florida, a bit removed from northernmost New York State. But her aunt worked for a Clarkson trustee at the time, and when he learned of her interest in engineering, he encouraged her to consider the challenge that Clarkson, and our North Country climate, would offer. Rosemary was looking for a small-town setting where she could get personal attention in her studies, and had experienced Chicago winters before moving to Florida, so she eagerly considered the challenge. An offer of scholarship aid sealed the deal.

Rosemary lived in Potsdam year-round during her time at Clarkson. She enjoyed the social opportunities in a small town, and especially enjoyed the impromptu fireside chats with friends. Many of the gatherings turned into study sessions where she could ask questions of upper classmen to help in her studies as an electrical and computer science major. After graduation, Rosemary spent several years with the Burroughs Company and then moved to Lotus and finally Verizon, where she has spent the past 12 years working in program management. It was at Verizon in 1997 that Rosemary took her first steps towards creating her philanthropic legacy.

“A good friend of mine had passed away from cancer, and I wanted to do something in his honor. It struck me that I could combine my desire to remember him and also help others,” says Rosemary. So Rosemary began making annual gifts to Clarkson to sponsor the Michael Jaeger Scholarship to provide financial aid to an undergraduate student in engineering. Recently Rosemary began working with the Annie Clarkson Society to structure a gift pledge over the next five years that will permanently endow the fund, guaranteeing financial support to needy and deserving students in perpetuity.

As Rosemary concluded, “our Clarkson education prepared us for success for the rest of our lives. I can’t think of a better legacy when I’m 87 years old than knowing that I am helping to ensure the Clarkson experience for students now and into the future.”

What’s Creative About Rosemary’s Gift?

  • She is converting a scholarship funded with annual gifts to one that will be funded permanently through endowment.
  • She has pledged to fund the endowment over 5 years.
  • Her gifts will be matched by her employer each year.
  • Her 5-year pledge is structured to maximize the employer match.
  • She may fulfill her pledge with gifts of appreciated stock, thus avoiding capital gain tax.
  • Her entire pledge counted in her 30th reunion fundraising effort.
  • Creating an endowment makes her a member of the Annie Clarkson Society.