Conversations in Philanthropy
How a shared love for foreign language and culture translates into opportunity for students.
Years before Robin Austin ’78 and Gary Wescott met, they were both students in France, Robin studying the carillon, a medieval instrument, and Gary exploring French and Spanish literature. Years later, they spoke only French on their first date.
Through Gary’s work with Hilton Hotels, they even lived in Paris. Both lifelong learners, Robin began auditing French courses at his alma mater in retirement.
“It’s wonderful to go back to campus,” he says. “I love the students and the diversity — I’m usually the oldest person in the room, and they get a kick out of that.”
The experience spurred him to begin making an annual gift to the French Department. Hearing from the Department Chair that students were able to study abroad because of money he had donated was inspiring.
“The University really makes an effort to make everyone feel appreciated,” Robin says. “It’s emblematic of the way an organization operates, and it gives us confidence that the Foundation is caring for and managing our investments.”
Pivotal to their decision to include the University in their estate plans is the knowledge that accessing education can be difficult.
“We’re very aware of the privilege we have as two white men, so we want our legacy to be connected to helping disenfranchised groups,” Gary says.
“Having been a fundraiser, I know how campaigns work,” Robin adds. “So I asked Gary, ‘Is this something we can do?’”
Their planned gift will create the Robin Austin ’78 and Gary Wescott Endowed French Scholarship to support students majoring in French who identify as LGBTQ+, BIPOC, or Latinx.
“We know firsthand the experience of being in a new and different culture and how it’s expanded our world,” says Robin.
“And we hope this has some small impact.”
Robin Austin '78 & Gary Wescott
George Morris Philips Society Members
"The University really makes an effort to make everyone feel appreciated. It's emblematic of the way an organization operates, and it gives us confidence that the Foundation is caring for and managing our investments."