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$40 million new gift from Rich and Mary Templeton to college follows their earlier donation of $51 million for integration of liberal arts, engineering & computer science
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$40 million new gift from Rich and Mary Templeton to college follows their earlier donation of $51 million for integration of liberal arts, engineering & computer science

Class of 1980 graduates of Union College Rich and Mary Templeton, whose $51 million gift announced in 2020 was the largest in Union’s history, have given another $40 million to strengthen the College’s distinctive integration of the liberal arts, engineering and computer science.

The $91 million committed by the Templetons over the past several years highlights the couple’s strong belief in the future success of their alma mater. Known for their education philanthropy, the Templetons have often spoken about the impact Union had in preparing them for successful careers and their desire to help strengthen the College for future generations.

In addition to their two historic gifts, the longtime benefactors have supported scholarships for women in engineering and computer science, the Gridiron Club and the Union Fund, among other initiatives. Their latest gift, the second largest the College has received, will support critical space needed for the College’s burgeoning programs in engineering and computer science.

Enrollment in these programs has grown significantly in the past several years. The College recently restored its civil engineering major and added a new environmental engineering major. First-year students began their course of study in the new majors in the fall.

Part of the gift will be used to conduct a needs assessment to determine how to increase the physical footprint to accommodate the popular programs. Options include additional classrooms, labs, collaborative workspaces and faculty offices.

“We can’t thank Mary and Rich enough for their continued generosity and leadership,” said President David R. Harris. “They epitomize the very best of Union. Their generosity already has significantly strengthened our academic offerings, and this latest gift will be truly transformative as the College continues to build on its mission as a distinctive union of the liberal arts, engineering and computer science that prepares students to thrive across multiple tomorrows.”

Rich Templeton is chairman and former CEO of Texas Instruments. He joined the company after earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Union. Mary (Haanen) Templeton, a philanthropist and community volunteer, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. She had a 14-year career with General Electric Company before moving to Dallas, the headquarters of Texas Instruments.

At Union, Mary and Rich met at the Rathskeller, the beloved social space in the basement of Old Chapel. Rich ran the place and Mary worked there.

“We believe strongly in Union, which offers a distinctive combination of the liberal arts, engineering and computer science,” the couple said. “Our investment will help Union continue to create a first-class engineering and computer science capability, which, when combined with the liberal arts, uniquely prepares Union graduates to be successful in today’s world.”

In 1845, Union became the first liberal arts college to offer engineering, and it continues to lead the way in the integration of the traditional liberal arts, science and engineering.

The latest gift from the Templetons comes as the College is in the early phases of its Engineering and Computer Science Initiative, an ambitious blueprint to build on Union’s most distinctive elements and elevate and differentiate the College in an increasingly competitive higher education landscape.

An external advisory committee chaired by Rich Templeton and made up of nationally recognized technology leaders and engineering and computer science faculty experts, is guiding the initiative.

The goals of the initiative include:

deliver new and innovative learning opportunities to engineering and computer science students within the context of a broad and vibrant liberal arts education

offer non-engineering and computer science students opportunities to become conversant with digital data and technology, exposing them to the methods, tools and habits of mind of engineers and computer scientists

bring both types of students together – inside and outside the classroom – to lend multiple perspectives to today’s challenges

attract more students of all interests to Union College

A key component of the initiative is the Templeton Institute (TI). Created as part of the earlier $51 million gift, the institute is dedicated to promoting the integration of engineering and computer science and the liberal arts by bringing together teachers, learners and practitioners from myriad fields to focus on academics as well as real-world challenges.

Andrew Burkett, associate professor of English, and Ashok Ramasubramanian, professor of mechanical engineering, are the co-directors of the Templeton Institute.

In addition to the institute, the initial gift is being used for scholarships, enhancements to the curriculum, faculty support, and capital to further develop spaces and facilities.

Michele Angrist, the Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, affirmed Union’s deep appreciation of the Templetons’ continued support.

“Their latest gift will help bolster our efforts to elevate Union’s reputation as a premier destination for students with interests in engineering, computer science or the liberal arts – and especially those who are excited about the many relevant intersections among these areas for asking important questions and solving tomorrow’s problems,” Angrist said.

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