NEW YORK — Baruch College has received a $30 million gift from Austin Marxe (Class of ’65, BBA in Accountancy) to its School of Public and International Affairs. The donation is the largest single gift in the history of Baruch College and ties for the second largest single gift in the history of the City University of New York (CUNY).
The Board of Trustees of the City University of New York approved the renaming of the School, which will now be known as the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs.
The $30 million gift will enable the School to increase scholarships and study abroad programs for students to advance their education and careers; to establish faculty chairs and provide support for additional faculty; to forge new partnerships with public policy leaders, organizations and institutions, both domestically and abroad; and to develop and expand programming that will include convening thought leaders for critical discussions around the vital questions of the day. The gift will also establish a permanent endowment for the School.
Situated less than 20 city blocks from the United Nations, Baruch College has a diverse student body that is a true reflection of today’s global society. The School is the only free-standing public institution in New York City devoted exclusively to teaching public and international affairs.
The gift to the School—which can trace its beginnings to 1910 and has for decades trained students for careers in government and the nonprofit sectors on the local, state, national and international levels—will elevate its status to compete with the most prestigious programs in the world.
“The College is extremely grateful to receive such a generous gift from one of its most distinguished and successful alumni,” said Dr. Mitchel B. Wallerstein, President of Baruch College. “Austin Marxe’s philanthropy will be transformational for Baruch, which is already one of the leading public colleges in the nation. It will enable the College to move into the front rank of academic institutions in the U.S. training students for careers in public and international affairs.”
CUNY Chancellor James Milliken said: “We are deeply appreciative of the far-sighted and extraordinary gift of Austin Marxe, a distinguished alumnus of CUNY’s Baruch College. His generous commitment to his alma mater will position the new Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, located in the heart of the nation’s global center, to become one of the leading schools in the country, significantly increasing student scholarships, attracting world-class faculty and establishing relationships with public policy leaders and organizations. The new school will provide outstanding opportunities for the talented, ambitious and diverse CUNY students who will benefit from this gift for generations to come.”
“This gift will allow us to compete for the best and brightest students and faculty from around the country and the world,” said David Birdsell, PhD, Dean of the Baruch College School of Public and International Affairs. “Just as important, they will represent the kind of diversity we need in leadership to shepherd the fortunes of a country undergoing tremendous demographic change and a world in which nations are ever more closely interconnected.”
“Now more than ever we need excellent schools to train leaders who can grapple with the serious challenges we face as a country and as a neighbor throughout the world. My hope is that this gift will allow the school to produce the next generation of policy leaders who are committed to improving the world,” said Austin W. Marxe. “I’m trying to give back to a school that has given me so much.”
Marxe himself embodies the “Baruch story.” A native New Yorker, born in the Bronx and raised in Queens, Marxe came from a family of modest means that struggled financially during the Depression years. He chose Baruch College for his degree since it was the only affordable option for his family. Attending classes mostly in the evening, Marxe took on various jobs during the day, including traveling to local bars, restaurants and hotels around the city to audit their bookkeeping records. After graduating in 1965, he began working at a small accounting company and was later hired by a larger more prestigious firm in the city.
“Clearly without my education and credentials from Baruch College, no one would have hired me,” said Marxe. In 1988, Marxe left Prudential Bache to found his own company, and today is President and Managing Director of AWM Investment Company, Inc., an employee-owned investment firm. A world traveler and avid fisherman, Marxe and his wife Dianne, a sculptor, live on the east end of Long Island. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.
Baruch’s current enrollment is 18,400 and extremely diverse, both ethnically and economically, with students tracing their heritage to 168 countries and speaking 130 languages. Sixty percent of the school’s students come from households with incomes of less than $40,000, and more than one-third are the first in their family ever to attend college. Baruch College has been repeatedly recognized as having one of the most ethnically diverse student bodies in the United States.