Donor Stories

Generosity can have a ‘domino effect’

Mary Statza ’16 and Marie Takach ’16 traveled to the wilds of western Montana last summer for several weeks of geologic fieldwork with Allegheny College Professor Robert Schwartz.

David Klodowski ’16 spent part of his summer with Associate Professor Margaret Nelson doing developmental biology experiments.

Alyssa King ’16 spent a semester overseas in Angers, France, to further her skills in language and international studies, and to get a different perspective on the world.

The deeply enriching learning experiences these students have enjoyed wouldn’t have been possible without the direct support of Christine Scott Nelson ’73, who has endowed several funds that support student research and study away experiences.

Says Marie about her opportunity traveling to Montana, “This trip allowed me to gain a better understanding of what it is like to be a geologist. I saw what it is like to prepare for a research project, how to collect data in the field and how to put that data to use.”

“I plan to go on to medical school, and one of the things that medical schools look for in applicants is a background in research,” adds David about his experience.

Most recently, Chris endowed a professorship in the Department of Environmental Science/Studies. That professorship is now held by Professor Eric Pallant, a longtime faculty member.

“Within minutes of receiving my honor, I fired off notes to the provost and Christine explaining my gratitude for receiving a double honor – first, for being selected to hold an endowed chair, and second, for being associated with Christine Scott Nelson, one of Allegheny’s most respected environmentalist advocates,” says Pallant.

An exuberant Pallant continues: “Then I hired Sarah Swartz ’16 to be my research assistant for this upcoming summer as soon as she returns from her semester abroad at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel. Together, Sarah and I will be working on projects related to cleaning contaminated water, continuing to improve environmental practices on campus and enhancing teaching materials for two of my classes – Soil to Plate and World Regional Geography.

“In addition I am using the support of the endowed chair to present a paper at a national conference on environmental studies in San Diego. The paper will outline for others how Allegheny’s annual energy challenge has effectively reduced energy consumption on campus by 10 percent.”

It’s amazing to see how the generosity of one person can have a “domino effect,” touching and transforming so many lives.

“Giving back to Allegheny can bring great joy,” says Chris. “Hearing from students and faculty about lives that your gift has helped change is not only inspiring, but it is a great reminder of how much Allegheny transformed us all.”

Chris, whose son Paul graduated from Allegheny in 2014, is adviser and retired managing director of Cornerstone Research Inc. in Boston, Mass. After graduating from Allegheny with a Spanish major and political science minor, she went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School. She then partnered with two others to found her consulting company, which focuses on economic analyses for complex commercial litigation.

“Allegheny prepared me for the challenges of building a successful company, now with more than 500 employees, through analytical rigor in my coursework and leadership development opportunities in extracurricular activities,” she says.

Chris says she started supporting Allegheny with small annual gifts. Her first capital gift was to the campaign that funded construction and renovation of the science buildings on campus. “I was inspired by how many young women at Allegheny were going into the sciences. I was moved by the personal stories of these women and the future they were preparing for,” she says.

“Giving back to Allegheny can bring great joy. Hearing from students and faculty about lives that your gift has helped change is not only inspiring, but it is a great reminder of how much Allegheny transformed us all.”

Christine Scott Nelson ’73

Chris says lately she has directed her gifts to three areas — environmental science, faculty support and study away opportunities — for several reasons.

“Allegheny does an outstanding job preparing students to be responsible stewards of our earth, assuring a sustainable future. It’s an honor to play a part in helping to make that happen.

“Allegheny’s faculty is terrific. Faculty members conduct impressive research and develop creative curriculum, both of which deserve national recognition,” she says. “And studying abroad was a life-changing experience for me, as it has been for our son. No student should be denied that opportunity due to financial constraints.”

Chris also supports the College as a member of the board of trustees, a role she cherishes because she sees Allegheny as having an important role in higher education. “By being a residential liberal arts college, Allegheny helps develop young men and women in ways that go far beyond the confines of the classroom,” she says. “The culture of service, community and experiential learning prepare Allegheny alumni for a rich and rewarding life.”

— Rick Stanley

Chris Nelson


Mary Statza and Marie Takach presented some of the results of their Montana research at the National Geological Society of America Conference.