Westmont Magazine A Plan to Build Up Giving
During his 18 years as president of Westmont, Roger Voskuyl achieved many “firsts”: first accreditation, first new building, first regular payment of salaries, first million-dollar gift—and the first planned-giving program.
“A retired attorney introduced me to the concept of planned giving,” Roger recalls. “He had helped Pomona and Stanford develop this kind of fund raising and knew it would benefit Westmont. So I began studying the subject and attending seminars. I also hired Gordon Caswell as director of development, and he became a strong and effective proponent of planned giving.”
One of the many challenges Roger faced was building the campus. When he arrived in 1950, most classes and activities took place in Kerrwood Hall, and male students lived in Quonset huts.
Planned giving helped to fund a number of the 13 buildings Roger added to the campus. For example, the college’s first contact with Ernest Gieser, who gave the money for Deborah Clark Halls, came through a penny postcard he sent requesting information about annuities. When Gordon Caswell visited the Giesers, he challenged them to fund a new residence hall, and they chose to do so by establishing two trusts worth a total of $648,000 that provided them with an income for life.
Similarly, Hugh Murchison set up two $400,000 charitable trusts to build the Murchison Athletic Complex: one in his name and the other in the name of his wife, Pauline.
Days after moving books into the new Voskuyl Library in 1968, Roger announced he was leaving Westmont to direct the Council of Small Colleges in Washington, D. C. Fortunately, he returned 10 years later at the request of President David Winter to strengthen the planned giving program.
“I opened the files and began calling on people to discuss the value of annuities, trusts, and making gifts through their estates,” Roger recalls. One woman he visited, Kathleen Smith, left the college $1.7 million in her will, the largest donation made up until this year.
During his second tenure at Westmont, Roger lost his first wife, Trudi. He then married Margaret Jacobsen, who had strong ties to the college, and retired in 1986.
After graduating from Wheaton with a B.A. and M.A. in Christian education, Margaret taught at Westmont in 1940. She then married Rolf Jacobsen, who served on the college’s board from 1947 to 1974. She raised three children, taught child psychology and Christian education at Biola, and wrote a book on child psychology. An active member of Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, Calif., she served as director of missionary programs there for 20 years.