Ivory Tower to be renamed ‘Shenkman Hall’ after trustee gives $5 million

Mark Shenkman announced his donation at a Board of Trustees meeting Friday. Erica Christian | Photo Editor
Mark Shenkman announced his donation at a Board of Trustees meeting Friday. Erica Christian | Photo Editor
Ivory Tower will be renamed “Shenkman Hall” after a Board of Trustees member who donated $5 million toward career services, the largest-ever gift from a sitting trustee.

The donation from Mark and Rosalind Shenkman will boost the University-wide career center’s budget by $3 million, adding funds that could be used for additional advising resources or unpaid internship programs. The gift earmarks another $2 million for the business school’s career services.

“Many of our students already seek knowledge through internships and experiential education,” Shenkman, who has served as a trustee since 2003, said in a release. “By providing more resources to redefine and expand career development, we are providing additional opportunities for students and alumni as they pursue their career aspirations.”

The name “Ivory Tower” came from the Song of Solomon, representing noble purity in religious tradition. Former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg picked the name for the residence hall, which opened a decade ago, drawing criticism from faculty.

The name was also mentioned in a Washington Post story last spring, which forced the University to defend its “rich-kid reputation.”

“The Ivory Tower, a dorm, opened in 2004 with private bathrooms and full kitchens so luxurious it made the Princeton Review’s list of ‘Dorms Like Palaces,'” the Post reported.

After it lacked a name for more than a decade, New Hall was renamed Amsterdam Hall to honor a former member of the Board of Trustees who also left $5 million for the University.

The career center has undergone a transformation over the past three years as administrators have hired about a dozen new advisers to help students get an early jump on career planning in a competitive job market. The Center for Career Services has an annual $2 million budget as part of the strategic plan, and over the next decade, it will receive at least $20 million in University funding.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said she did not have more details on what the gift would specifically fund.

At the public health school’s ribbon cutting Thursday to open its new $75 million building on Washington Circle, financier and philanthropist Michael Milken pointed specifically to Shenkman as the person who convinced him to donate $50 million in a two-part gift to name the school.

Similar to Milken, Shenkman is known for pioneering the junk-bond market in the 1980s and 1990s. Shenkman graduated with a master of business administration in 1967, and is the president, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Shenkman Capital Management, a wealth management firm that specializes in the high-yield, junk-bond market.

He also wrote one of the first business school textbooks about the high-yield market with finance professor Theodore Barnhill, which was published in 1999.

Shenkman has previously given gifts to areas like the business school’s annual fund and supported the expansion of Veterans Memorial Park in 2013, moving it to its current location in Kogan Plaza.

The University has historically struggled to land big gifts, though Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger said Friday that the University will beat its previous record by landing more than 21 gifts that top $1 million before the end of this fiscal year.

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