In Memoriam: Robert A. Day ’65 P’12, a dedicated leader of CMC for nearly 60 years

Robert Day.
Remembering Robert

We encourage you to share your memories and reflections about Robert Day’s impact on CMC by emailing The College will compile these sentiments to share with the community in the days and months ahead.

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“I have so many special memories, but what really stands out is the time Robert spent with all of us, especially his Robert Day Scholars. In his soft-spoken voice, he always tried to answer each student, sometimes with a twinkle in his eye or smirk on his face when he knew his response was going to draw a laugh. Robert built a true community because of the time he invested. We now have the responsibility to continue his legacy by investing our time in CMC and the Robert Day Scholars Program.”

— Michelle Chamberlain
Vice President, Advancement & Student Opportunities
Dean, Robert Day Scholars Program

“The first thing I noticed about Robert Day was that we shared the same middle name—Addison. And so, “Addison” is what we called each other for the rest of our lives.

The next two things that were clear to me about Addison were traits I witnessed first-hand in our initial meeting on the skeet range at the Bohemian Grove. First, he was a deadeye shot. And second, he knew how to teach that skill, something he employed to make me a better hunter.

Along the way, I learned so much more about this wonderful human being who became my close friend.

I knew Robert Day as a brilliant investor and savvy businessman who maintained a laser-like focus on the challenges that confronted him. Such clarity helped him develop strong missions for everything he did—from the Trust Company of the West to the Keck Foundation.

Always enthusiastic, I learned that he also valued the rewards of risk, as long as it was smart and well calculated. 

And of course, he had an oversized competitive drive that would have been the envy of the great Green Bay Packers’ football coach, Vince Lombardi. His mantra was simple: Winning is the only thing. But at the same time, he always led with an esprit de corps that made experiences with him as enjoyable as they were hard working.

But above all of the many traits that I came to recognize in Robert Addison Day, those strengths that made him such a successful and remarkable man, the one I cherish most was his capacity for friendship.

I cannot think about him without recalling the verse by Williams Butler Yeats that President George H.W. Bush liked to quote so often: “Think where man's glory most begins and ends, And say my glory was I had such friends.”

Addison was a dear friend, one of my best and closest. And my wife Susan and I will miss him greatly”

— James Addison Baker, III
Former US Secretary of State

“I am honored to lead Mr. Day’s Scholars through his esteemed program, but what I love witnessing the most is the relationships that they build, thanks to Mr. Day. I am forever grateful for the students he’s connected me to, the alumni who have become friends, and the staff who have become family – all through the Robert Day Scholars Program. His generosity and spirit were truly unmatched.”

—Amy Flanagan ’11
Director, Robert Day Scholars and Scholar Communities
Robert Day Scholars Program
Soll Center for Student Opportunity

“I am grateful for his generosity and his passion for educating students in finance. I will never forget that Mr. Day’s generosity made my experience at RDS possible. He impacted my education profoundly. I feel blessed to have been able to take the finance courses at CMC that Mr. Day made possible. I know that what I learned helped me in law school, as well as when I have taught Business Organizations at Trinity Law School.”

—Alexa Clark ’14
Class of 2014 Robert Day Scholars

“My thoughts to his family. I had the chance to meet him many times and his generosity to CMC, and many other institutions, will leave a lasting impact."

Tim Galbraith ’87

“He lived down the hall in what then was called Claremont Hall. He had the only electric calculator in the dorm and he was generous about letting us check our accounting homework in it. His generosity to CMC knew no bounds.”

Rick Learned ’66

Robert A. Day ’65 P’12, a visionary philanthropist whose legacy is woven into the fabric of Claremont McKenna College (CMC), passed away on Thursday, September 14, 2023. He was 79.

From the time he matriculated as a student in 1960, and throughout more than five decades as a Trustee, Day embraced and advanced CMC’s mission, generously supporting initiatives designed to help develop future responsible leaders. His name graces some of Claremont McKenna’s most notable programs and institutions, including the Robert Day Scholars Program, the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance, and the future Robert Day Sciences Center, currently set to open in 2025.

“As a dear friend, loyal alumnus, global business leader, dedicated Board chair, and visionary donor, Robert’s personal, professional, and philanthropic commitment to Claremont McKenna is extraordinary. The legacy of his impact is incalculable,” said CMC President Hiram Chodosh. “The entire CMC community and everyone we serve will benefit from the dividends of Robert’s investments for generations to come.”

Day was a pioneer of the asset management industry having founded Trust Company of the West (TCW). He also served as the CEO and Chairman of the W.M. Keck Foundation. Day was especially committed to supporting programs that directly benefit students at CMC. He was most proud of the Robert Day Scholars Program, which was established with an unprecedented gift in 2007 and is the encapsulation of CMC’s singular mission to prepare students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions.

Robert Day.
Robert A. Day ’65 P’12, seen here in 1985 viewing the Claremont McKenna College campus, created countless opportunities for generations of CMC students. He was the longest-standing trustee in CMC history, serving 53 years.

The $200 million gift to launch the program was, at the time, the largest recorded gift to a liberal arts institution and among the top 20 largest gifts ever given to a college or university. In recognition of the extraordinary impact of his gift and his exceptional level of service to the College, CMC renamed the economics department in his honor, establishing the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.

“I know from talking with CEOs every day and sitting on boards of $40 billion-plus companies that there is an enormous opportunity for young people who possess leadership skills, financial acumen, and the kind of judgment and perspective that only an undergraduate liberal arts education can provide,” Day said at the time.

CMC received another foundational gift in December of 2018—this time a $40 million lead donation from the W.M. Keck Foundation, and another gift in 2021 of $20 million from two foundations affiliated with the Day family—to support the Robert Day Sciences Center, an iconic facility that will house the new Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences. Day also served as an honorary chair for the recently-completed Campaign for CMC: Responsible Leadership.

Always looking toward the future, Day said, “This new center will provide a powerful platform for innovation in pursuit of CMC's leadership mission to seize the opportunities of scientific discovery and responsibly put (students) to work in the economy and our democracy.”

Day was born in 1943 in Los Angeles to Robert A. Day and Willametta Keck Day. His grandfather, William Myron Keck, was an oil entrepreneur and philanthropist, who created the W. M. Keck Foundation in 1954.

Robert Day.

After attending Robert Louis Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, Day enrolled at Claremont Men’s College in 1960, where he was a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He spent five years in pursuit of three areas of interest—economics, international relations, and history—ultimately majoring solely in economics. Throughout his time at CMC, he formed lasting relationships with his professors, as well as founding CMC President George C.S. Benson P’61, former CMC President Jack Stark ’57 GP’11, Jil Stark ’58 GP’11, and many others.

“Robert has been a dear and close friend since his sophomore year at CMC. He was called ‘Bo’ back then. Jil and I have spent many happy days with Robert, and we deeply grieve his passing,” said Jack Stark. “Robert was also a magnificent friend of CMC. He became a Trustee in his late 20s. He generously helped guide his College for more than 50 years, and played a major role in the College's advancement. Our deepest condolences and love go to Marlyn, DiDi, Joe, and Jon.”

In December 1965, Day memorably submitted his senior thesis, “A Proposal for an Investment Advisory Company.” He wrote in the introduction: “This is the basic outline of the company which the author intends to establish.”

CMC Professor Procter Thomson offered pages of constructive feedback throughout, including extensive comments at the beginning of the paper. He wrote: “Let me urge you to think this through very, very carefully,” specifically commenting on innovation, range of services, and accountability.

Day received a “B- for bravery.”

He went to work for White Weld & Co. in New York as an institutional salesman, and in his first year became the firm’s fourth-largest producer. Four years later, he returned to California and created the business boldly outlined in his senior thesis.

In 1971, the 27-year-old Day founded TCW in downtown Los Angeles. The fledgling asset management firm started with $2 million in assets under management and quickly grew under Day’s expert leadership. Forty years later, it had grown to $248 billion.

Day always credited CMC for his success and reason for giving back to the College. “I went to work straight out of CMC,” said Day, who made his first donation to CMC the year he graduated. “The education I received there prepared me to succeed. I believe that I should put something back into the system, because if I don’t put something back, the next generation will not have the same benefits I enjoyed.”

In addition to financially supporting programs and centers at CMC, Day was also generous with his time and talent. He joined CMC’s Board of Trustees in 1970 at age 29 as its youngest-elected member and two decades later became the seventh trustee chairman and the youngest in CMC’s history.

Robert Day.

“Robert embodied the mission and motto of the College. He led a remarkably ‘thoughtful and productive life,’ was the epitome of a ‘responsible leader in business, government, and the professions,’ and believed to his core that ‘civilization prospers with commerce,’” said CMC Board of Trustees Chair David Mgrublian ’82 P’11. “He was a mentor and friend, who was always there for me and for CMC when it faced its biggest challenges and seized its biggest opportunities. Our Board will deeply miss him.”

Day emphasized the importance of good judgment in business leaders and recognized CMC’s strengths in developing strong leadership qualities in students, particularly through practical experiences. “We’ve been making leaders since the founding of the College in 1946,” he said in 2008. “To be a success in any profession, a person must have judgment and take risks. You don’t win anything by waiting.”

Day loved Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond music, a good cigar, and most of all, his alma mater, sharing his wealth of personal and professional connections with CMC by bringing high-profile speakers to campus and trustee meetings, including former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker. In 2002, he served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under George W. Bush, and in 2006, was awarded the Decoration of Officier de la Legion D'Honneur from the Government of France.

To the end, Day expressed profound pride in graduating from CMC.

“Each year, I recognize more and more the value of my CMC education,” he said. “It is my sincere wish that by giving back to the College in this way, we will help shape the next generation of leaders.”

Day is survived by his children, Joe (and his wife, Nina Hachigian), DiDi, and Jon, his grandchildren Taj, Sosi, Avo, and Ziggy, his wife, Marlyn Day, and his brother, Matt Day, and his family. Robert was predeceased by his brothers, Lawrence and T.J., and sister, Tammis.

Our collective thoughts and prayers are with the extended Day family.

The following timeline of Robert Day's impact at CMC was developed for his 50th Anniversary celebration as a Trustee. Click to enlarge images.

An illustrated timeline of 50 years of influence of Robert Day.

Gilien Silsby and Anne Bergman


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