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Andlinger's Lesson In Philanthropy


Generous donation demonstrates American spirit.

One news item that didn't get a lot of press this week was the announced gift of $100.0 million to Princeton University from Gerhard R. Andlinger, graduate of the class of 1952.

The gift, which is earmarked for research on effective and sustainable solutions to problems of energy and the environment, is one of the largest ever to any university.

In addition to being extremely generous, this donation has many other implications and lessons for all of us. At a time when the country is trying to figure out its next move and clear hurdles, not the least of which is enormous self doubt, we are reminded of the basics. We are reminded of what made America great in the first place.

Gerhard Andlinger, or Gerry to his friends, came to America first in 1948 from Austria after winning a newspaper essay contest. Later he got into Princeton on a academic scholarship. Immediately upon his graduation from Princeton, the U.S. entered into its first recession since the Great Depression. It would be the first of seven recession Andlinger would live through.
The recessions , including the current situation:

1953- 1954
1957- 1958
1973- 1975
1980- 1982
1990- 1991
2001- 2003

After going to Harvard Business school it was off to the U.S. Army and a stint at the consultancy firm McKinsey. Then he moved on to ITT (ITT) where he would work up to the position of chairman of the company's Levitt & Sons unit, but not before becoming the youngest elected corporate vice president in the company's history.

Andlinger formed his own investment firm in 1976 and, as they say, the rest is history. So what we could learn from his story are the same virtues our grandmothers taught us: Embrace knowledge. Have an open mind. Get an eduction. Serve your country. Help your fellow man.

I don't want to get weepy or mitigate the current level of angst but we've seen this movie before and it has been those that have tunnel vision that make it through. So many folks that say they're investors have begun to freak out, when they should be the ones licking their chops. I can't predict the exact bottom but these throw-in-the-towel sessions are a sign of collective capitulation.
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