A Trustee Leads by Example
Trustee Dr. Janet Roberts '64 and her husband Dr. Edgar Clark recently made a wonderful commitment to the College through their estate as part of the Poet Legacies Campaign. Their bequest of $1,000,000 will have a lasting impact on the campus and will continue their legacy of generous support for students.
Janet was born at Murphy Memorial Hospital in Whittier and, although she grew up primarily in the Phoenix area, she would often return to the city to visit her grandparents. Given that she had family nearby, Whittier was on her list when it came time to apply for colleges. The offer of a full scholarship from the College made the decision much easier. And so it was that Janet came to Whittier as a first generation college student.
As a biology major, Janet recalls spending a lot of time with her classmates in the basement of Founders Hall. It's where she forged close friendships, some of which continue to this day. She also remembers the mentorship she received from the faculty, and from Dr. Lois James in particular. "She was instrumental in my decision to go to medical school. She also instilled in me a lifelong love of botany."
Janet was also able to benefit from an independent research project under the tutelage of Dr. John Arcadi. Altogether, her experience at Whittier prepared her well for medical school at UC San Francisco.
In medical school Janet met and married her husband, Dr. Edgar Clark. After graduating, the couple moved around a bit, started their family, and eventually landed in Portland, Oregon for Janet's residency and have lived there since. Ed practiced for many years as a radiologist and Janet still practices dermatology.
Work and family kept them busy, and their geographic distance from the College made it difficult to get involved. Seven years ago, however, President Herzberger came to visit Janet in Portland and invited Janet to join her advisory group, the Poet Council. It was then that Janet began to reconnect with her alma mater.
Ed accompanied Janet on her visits down to the campus and, although a graduate of Stanford University, developed his own appreciation for the College. "The more time I spent on the campus, the more I felt that it was a place that was 'really happening,'" Ed recalled.
Since that time both Janet and Ed have become much more involved at the College, supporting a fellowship so current students could benefit from the same kind of summer research that was so beneficial to Janet when she was preparing for medical school. She and Ed also supported the construction of the new Science and Learning Center and named a biology lab in memory of Dr. Lois James.
In 2016, at President Herzberger's recommendation, Janet was elected to the Whittier College Board of Trustees. "My alma mater had been such an important part of my life and Sharon and I had made such a wonderful connection. I saw it as an opportunity to serve and give back in a substantial way."
The already-generous couple recently decided to further their impact at Whittier and, as part of the Poet Legacies Campaign, made their wonderful commitment Whittier through their estate. When asked how they reached that decision, Janet said, "Everyone affiliated with the College is working so hard to serve students and tremendous progress is being made. We felt like Whittier was a place where a gift from our estate could really make an impact. And we wanted to set a good example for others."
Ed was also quick to note, "There are tax-advantages for our estate because this gift will be funded using our pension plans. They are good vehicles for charitable giving because the assets will pass to Whittier tax free, whereas were we to leave them to our heirs they would be taxed heavily."
Dr. Roberts said that her hope for Whittier's future is that "the College continues on its wonderful trajectory and maintains its commitment to first generation students." She and Ed's bequest will certainly help create a bright future for students, many of whom will attend Whittier as the first in their families to go to college-just like Janet was decades before.