In this era of philanthropic mega-donors, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) is grounded by the generosity and commitment of some of our most loyal and steadfast supporters. The cohort of alumni who provide unwavering annual support to the GSD Fund for student financial aid is growing, and their total contribution has almost doubled in the last five years. Among these loyal donors are established professionals, as well as recent graduates, who understand the power of design, value a quality design education, and remain committed to the tradition of giving back.
Christine Carlyle MAUD ’91, a principal and director of planning for Solomon Cordwell Buenz in Chicago, has donated to the GSD nearly every year for the past 21 years. She has consistently directed her annual giving toward financial aid. Married to a fellow architect, Carlyle describes her annual gifts as modest but acknowledges she is motivated to return the benefit because she was a recipient of financial aid as a student at the GSD. “Unfortunately, the starting salaries of young designers are low for their cost of living, especially in urban areas, and many are saddled with an enormous amount of student debt when they start out. I believe that every little bit counts, so I give what I can.” Carlyle’s engagement with the GSD goes well beyond her giving. She was involved with the GSD Alumni Council for nearly 10 years and said the experience was “in a word, tremendous. I enjoyed going back to Cambridge, getting updates on the School, talking with students, and participating in project reviews. It was an enriching experience.
Silicon Valley–based Amy Delson AB ’67, MArch ’72, a principal with Strategic Facilities Planning in Atherton, California, remembers choosing to enroll at the GSD: “Architecture is the synthesis of my interests in art, science, and writing. Being at the GSD was a wonderful experience, challenging me to be the best I could be among a group of classmates and professors who were intent on making the world a better place through design and social engagement.”
Although Delson attended both Harvard College and the Graduate School of Design, she acknowledges that her philanthropic support has greater impact at the GSD: “I feel it is important to support the next generation of innovative architects and design leaders; the tools they acquire at the GSD will enable them to influence the course of the global environment.”
Delson has given to the GSD almost every year for 35 years. With her gift this year, she joins the Josep Lluís Sert Council, a community of annual leadership donors who believe in the transformational power of design and share in an offering of curated design experiences.
Through their dedicated annual giving, supporters of the School like Carlyle and Delson create opportunities for the next generation of design leaders and help to shape design in the 21st century. For the GSD, every gift matters.