Lloyd Elliott leaves behind $1.1 million estate to namesake school

Media Credit: Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Patricia Kauffman, the daughter of Lloyd and Betty Elliott, presented University President Steven Knapp with a $1.15 million gift from her parents’ estate to support the international affairs school that bears her father’s name.

The former University president who helped make GW larger and wealthier left his final mark on campus this week, leaving behind his $1.15 million estate to the international affairs school that bears his name.

Lloyd Elliott, who died on New Year’s day in 2013 at age 94, left the donation in his will to establish an endowment for new programs in the Elliott School of International Affairs, the University announced Friday.

His daughter, Patricia Kauffman, said her parents had planned for years to ensure that their estate would support the school, which Elliott founded as one of his first official acts in office. It’s now one of the nation’s largest and most successful international affairs schools.

“They set up their estate so everything would end up at GW,” Kauffman said in an interview.

Kauffman, who is a member of the Elliott School’s Board of Advisors, said the school became her father’s passion after he retired as president. He would focus on students’ experiences to propel the school on the upward climb that has helped its graduate program become No. 7 in the country, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

During his last board meeting, Kauffman said her father had expressed concern about the amount that the school was setting aside to specifically benefit students.

“Honestly, it sounds funny, but the basic thing that drove everything he did was the genuine benefit of the student,” she said.

Maurice East, who served as dean of the Elliott School from 1985 to 1994, said that the donation would help ensure that the school will continue to thrive as GW shifts its funding priorities to other areas.

Recently, GW’s largest ever academic commitment went to the $275 million Science and Engineering Hall.

“When you are doing well, it’s awfully easy for the administrators to say, ‘Well we’re going to focus our money now on other schools,’” East said.

He said another strategy is to put more money toward pushing the best school even further, and that “as a former faculty member and dean of that school, I obviously like the latter strategy.”

The school’s dean Michael Brown, who will oversee the fund, called the gift “a tremendous step forward.” He added that Elliott and his wife, Betty, actively supported the school after his retirement.

“This gift is a testament to their commitment to the school’s important work,” Brown said in a statement. “This new endowment will enhance the school’s academic programs and global impact in perpetuity.”

The Elliott School boasts 57 tenured professors, which has grown 30 percent over the last decade. Part-time faculty have also swelled 33 percent over the past decade, while its enrollment has remained stable at about 2,100 students.

Elliott is also remembered for his role calming campus as protests against the Vietnam War shook D.C. in the 1970s. Amid the chaos, Elliott cancelled classes and final exams in May of 1970.

Years later, he trail-blazed the purchase of more than 50 acres of land in Loudoun County, Va., which is now home to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus. He is also known for creating the position of “University professor,” in 1980, in an effort to attract heavyweight academics to join GW’s rapidly-improving faculty.

The gift follows a growing trend where donors have left more money in their wills for GW. In 2012, the University pulled in $23.5 million from donations announced in wills, which was a 56 percent spike from the year before.

University President Steven Knapp, who formally accepted the gift Friday, said it was a final way for the Elliotts to demonstrate their dedication to GW. He praised the former president for preparing GW for its more recent successes.

“For more than two decades, Lloyd Elliott led this University with a grace, thoughtfulness, and strategic acumen that laid the groundwork for everything his successors have achieved,” Knapp said.

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