Robert Day ’65 P’12 honored at annual scholars celebration

Robert Day ’65 P’12 honored at annual scholars celebration.

Photos by Isaiah Tulanda ’20

Special recognition

The Robert Day Scholars dinner also celebrated the 7th annual Ross Donnelly M’13 Award given in memory of Ross Donnelly, who tragically died in 2017. Donnelly’s father, Doug; mother, Catey; and brother, Conner, awarded the scholarship to Anderson Breazeale ’24 and Jenna Rempel ’24. The award is for students who “demonstrate kindness, dignity, respect, inclusion, and looking out for others,” said Doug Donnelly, adding that these qualities personified his son, Ross. 

Robert Day School dinner.

The memory of the late Robert Day ’65 P’12—a philanthropic giant responsible for creating countless student opportunities at Claremont McKenna College—was recently celebrated at the annual gala that recognizes graduating Robert Day Scholars.

The bittersweet event in Los Angeles was marked by moving tributes to Day, who had a profound influence on his Robert Day Scholars thanks to words of wisdom, campus visits, personal lunch invitations, and financial support. The annual dinner to close the semester was the first formal gathering of the scholars since Day passed away in September at 79 years old.

Launched in 2009, the Robert Day Scholars Program has offered students a variety of academic and professional development programming designed to support future success in leadership positions across disciplines and industries. So far, 618 scholars—including 29 from the Class of ’24—have graduated from CMC.

To honor Day, CMC President Hiram Chodosh, Board of Trustees Chair David Mgrublian ’82 P’11, President Emeritus Jack Stark ’57 GP’11, and former Athenaeum Director and First Lady Jil Stark ’58 GP’11 engaged in a roundtable discussion filled with personal anecdotes about his impact. 

“Robert became a Trustee when he was 29 years old. He served in many leadership positions, including being Chairman of the Board. His commitment to this College and CMC students was unparalleled,” Jack Stark said in leading off the discussion.

Day’s vision, approachability, and commitment to academic programs and students will forever be remembered, echoed President Chodosh. “Robert could be very determined, but he always made decisions based on what would be best for students. I’ll never forget a conversation we had about the power of computer science and data science. (Although he was initially reluctant), he came to me and said he was now convinced because students described the need and benefit of such an academic program.”

That led to Day’s investment in the future Robert Day Sciences Center, which will house the new Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences, President Chodosh said.


In addition to appreciating the significance of investing in integrated sciences, Day understood how education shapes perspectives and experiences. “There were aspects of Robert’s character where he wouldn’t take no for an answer,” said Mgrublian. “He was very insightful in the way he looked at the world and the way he approached his decisions.”

“He always said that whatever he did, it was for the students,” added Jil Stark. “He said he wanted to pay back what he received at CMC. It was such a wonderful attitude.”

Robert Day Scholars graduate from CMC with the foundation necessary to excel at the start of their careers, said Michelle Chamberlain, Dean of the Robert Day Scholars Program. She opened the program with a heartfelt tribute to Day, noting that while his daily presence is missed, his legacy will carry on in the hearts and minds of CMCers ready to take on the world.

“As we talk about Robert’s investments at CMC, and most importantly, his investments in each and every Robert Day Scholar, what we start to understand is that his legacy will stand the test of time,” she said. “Robert Day’s legacy is in each of you. Since his passing, we’ve heard from so many of you who carry Robert’s optimism, his guiding comments, and even some very funny moments. That is what we will treasure and share as a bond.”

Gilien Silsby


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