Chatham News

Chatham University Receives $15 Million Gift From the Falk Foundation

The grant will support and accelerate the education, outreach and research mission of Chatham’s renamed Falk School of Sustainability.

PITTSBURGH, PA— Chatham University has received a $15 million grant from the Falk Foundation to support Chatham’s School of Sustainability & the Environment. This grant, the largest gift Chatham has ever received in its 144-year history, builds upon the major gifts received to-date for Chatham’s School of Sustainability & the Environment and the new Eden Hall Campus from individuals and foundations including The Eden Hall Foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the McCune Foundation, Dollar Bank and PNC Charitable Trust among other supporters.

With this transformational capital gift, Chatham University will create the Falk Sustainability Endowment to support academic programs in Chatham’s interdisciplinary School of Sustainability & the Environment and help fund campus construction at Eden Hall Campus. In honor and recognition of this gift, Chatham’s School of Sustainability & the Environment will also be renamed, the Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University. Additional highlights of the initial Falk investments include:

  • The appointment of the endowed Sigo Falk Faculty Chair in Social Justice & Sustainability
  • The creation of new faculty positions in critical applied areas of sustainability studies such as sustainability management
  • The development of a program of corporate and non-profit partnerships through paid student summer internships
  • The expansion of Chatham’s Rachel Carson Institute to honor the legacy of Chatham’s most famous alumna (Rachel Carson, Class of ’29) and further Chatham’s sustainability efforts through local and international outreach
  • The continued development of Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus as Chatham’s branch campus in northern Allegheny County and as an exemplary model of green and sustainable development.

The Falk Foundation’s relationship with Chatham, which extends nearly half of Chatham’s existence, started in 1952 with the funding of Chatham’s Falk Hall, named in honor of Laura Falk, wife of the Falk Foundation’s founder, Maurice Falk (Braun Hall, the building adjacent to Falk Hall, is named in honor of Arthur Braun, an early Falk Foundation director and chair of Chatham’s Board of Trustees). Sigo Falk, Chair of the Falk Foundation, has been a Chatham Board of Trustee since 1981, was Chair of the Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2002, and has been Vice Chair from 2002 to the present.

“The relationship between the Falk Foundation and the University transcends financial support, however” noted Sigo Falk, Chair of the Falk Foundation. “Both represent a history of progressive thinking and a shared commitment to our capacity to meet our current needs without compromising the ecological, social and economic systems upon which we rely for the future.”

“For more than 50 years Chatham University and the Falk Foundation have shared a deep commitment to addressing some of the most challenging issues of the times,” said Dr. Barazzone. “It is this longstanding relationship and history that makes Chatham so deeply moved to announce the Falk Sustainability Endowment and its impact in accelerating our efforts to prepare students to lead the adoption and implementation of solutions to the immense challenges of living sustainably on the planet both now and in the future.”

Legacy & Leadership in Sustainability
Chatham’s longstanding commitment to environmental education and advocacy is a legacy of Rachel Carson, Class of ’29, a founder of the modern environmental movement and one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century” (2006). Building on that legacy, in 2008 Chatham’s Board of Trustees decided to make a deep institutional commitment to Sustainability by “integrating Sustainability into the fabric of the University through a coordinated and sustained effort of a kind rarely seen before.”

Chatham also founded its School of Sustainability & the Environment in 2008. The School today offers a Master of Arts in Food Studies, a Master of Sustainability, an Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership and a Bachelor of Sustainability (open to both men and women) beginning fall 2014.

In 2008 the Eden Hall Foundation transferred the 388-acre Eden Hall Farm (originally the home of early Heinz company executive Sebastian Mueller) to Chatham. The former farm property, now known as Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus, is the
first community in the world built from “below the ground up” as an exemplary model of green development. Self-sustaining in every way, Eden Hall will be a branch campus for Chatham in Pittsburgh’s North Hills communities, the eventual home to the School of Sustainability, and is designed to one-day serve 1,500 students while emitting zero carbon emissions, producing more energy than it consumes and managing all storm and waste water on-site. The first phase of Eden Hall Campus construction scheduled to be completed by December 1, 2013, and is the cornerstone of the University’s $100 million capital campaign, NEXT: The Campaign for Chatham, which has raised over $75 million to date.

Chatham has quickly established a global reputation as a leader in sustainability. Chatham was the only North American institution honored with the Excellence in Integration award by ISCN (International Sustainable Campus Network) this past summer in Singapore. Also last summer, Chatham received a Second Nature Climate Award and was named to Sierra Club’s Top 25 Cool Schools earlier this year. Chatham has integrated the concept of sustainability throughout the University adopting comprehensive programs and policies including, the decision to become the first university in Pittsburgh to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus, purchasing 100% of renewable electricity, and banning the use of chemicals and pesticides.

On December 14, 1929, Maurice Falk created The Maurice and Laura Falk Foundation as a memorial to his late wife, Laura Falk. During the Great Depression the Foundation’s mission was “To extend the frontiers of economic knowledge through research — competent, honest, and unbiased – and to make it available in clear and nontechnical language to the public.” Later, the Foundation branched out to political science and healthcare.

Over the years, many of the initiatives that the Foundation supported have had long-lasting impacts on a national as well as local level. For example, a Falk Foundation grant to the Brookings Institute enabled a study, “American’s Capacity to Produce: And America’s Capacity to Consume,” which led to the development and governmental fiscal and financial policies that encouraged economic recovery in the US from the great depression of the 1930s. In the 1960s, the Falk Foundation was one of the first to heighten awareness of the importance of early childhood development through its support of the work of Dr. James P. Comer. Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center.

Since 1960, the Foundation’s focus has been on social policy related to mental health, minority affairs, civil rights, and health. Over its 85 year life, the Foundation has awarded grants totaling over $51 million, and pioneered the creation of programs which combined research in the mental health field with issues of racism, prejudice, violence, bigotry, sustainability and social justice.

Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pa., has a long history of commitment to the environment and today is a recognized leader in the field of sustainability. Chatham has twice been named to The Princeton Review’s Green College Honor Roll, has been honored by the US EPA, was named to Sierra magazines list of top 25 “cool schools” and is mentioned in a 2012 Forbes article as one of the places “contributing to Pittsburgh’s transformation into a destination for green living.” Building on these accomplishments, Chatham will open on December 1st, 2013, the world’s first fully sustainable campuses in higher education, Eden Hall Campus, with completion of the first stage of construction on its 20-year master plan. Comprising three colleges and the School of Sustainability, Chatham’s works to prepare its 2,000+ undergraduate and graduate students to help create a brighter, healthier tomorrow through the fields of sustainability, healthcare, creative + design arts, business and education.