Irwin Kelson: Celebrating Great Teachers

As an undergraduate engineering student at The Johns Hopkins University, Irwin Kelson didn't value his professors because of their research or their published articles; he gravitated to the teachers who inspired him in the classroom. Now, 50 years after what he calls "four very, very enjoyable years," Mr. Kelson still praises teachers such as Rob Roy, who served as dean of the School of Engineering.

"He was a great human being and professor. He engaged my sensitivity to people and how best to motivate them," Mr. Kelson says. "This, combined with what I learned in Professor Roy's class in Industrial Relations (and nurtured by my basic instincts), formed the basis for my management style at IBM and later when I started and grew my successful computer consulting business."

Mr. Kelson also happily remembers William Kelso Morrill, a gifted math professor who he says wasn't formally recognized for his teaching because "he didn't publish enough, didn't do enough research."

"But Professor Morrill was a truly excellent teacher," Mr. Kelson says.

Mr. Kelson provides annual support to the Hopkins Fund and athletic programs but wanted to do something especially meaningful for Dean Roy and Professor Morrill. To honor Dean Roy and Professor Morrill and others like them, Mr. Kelson is celebrating his upcoming 50th reunion by creating the Irwin S. Kelson Prize for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduates. The gift provides for an annual teaching award and requires undergraduate participation in the selection process.

Mr. Kelson created the prize through a gift annuity, which affords him tax benefits while providing income for himself and his wife, Linda. "Interest rates are so low," he says, and the gift annuity guarantees him a good annual return. "I wanted to give a substantial gift to Hopkins, so I decided to do something that would allow me to make this gift and at the same time receive income for my family."

Gift vehicles used: Charitable gift annuity and annual gifts

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