Why We Decided to Leave a Bequest

Dr. Jane S. Edwards (New Hall [Murray Edwards] 1968) and Professor Humphrey R. Tonkin (St. John's College 1959)

Dr. Jane S. EdwardsTo Humphrey, going to Cambridge, "an institution that had been there for many centuries, and showed it in its astounding architecture," strengthened his already strong interest in history and, combined with the discovery of the UL, "changed my life, committing me to scholarship, academic leadership and writing."

Humphrey and his wife, Jane, were both the first generation in their families to attend university, and both read English, although a decade apart. For them, it was a transformational experience and a privilege. Jane enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many interesting and diverse fellow students and to have the opportunity to learn from major figures in the academic world. Humphrey enjoyed the freedom to discover new areas of interest and to forge new friendships.

After attending Cambridge, both Jane and Humphrey dedicated their lives to higher education. Jane currently serves as the Senior Associate Dean and Dean of International and Professional Experience at Yale University and previously worked at Wesleyan University and Harvard University. Humphrey is University Professor of the Humanities and President Emeritus of the University of Hartford and previously held posts as President of SUNY Potsdam and as Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

As you can see, for Jane and Humphrey, education is in their blood. They feel strongly that they have a duty to help support the institution that gave them so much and to pay it forward. "We are grateful for the wonderful sense of community that the College environments encourage and for all that Cambridge did for us," Jane and Humphrey say. "We want others to enjoy the opportunity to have similar experiences."

Jane and Humphrey have decided to leave a gift for each of their Colleges in their estate plans. As they explain, "we are not wealthy, but we feel strongly that we have a responsibility to give back. A lifetime in higher education has convinced us that the institutions of a democratic society are dependent on our constant awareness of their fragility and the need both to perpetuate them and to help them adapt to changing times."

Jane and Humphrey's bequests are unrestricted, as they have faith that the future leaders of the Colleges will make informed decisions as to the areas of greatest need at the time. Building a better future is a core principle of Collegiate Cambridge, and one which Jane and Humphrey are proud to support.