Kenneth Johnson ‘71 grew up in a blue-collar family in Walpole, Massachusetts. In 1967, Bates College offered him a full scholarship to attend over 4 years, and he readily accepted.
“I’m forever indebted to Bates for allowing me to attend a small, liberal arts college. I am grateful for the financial support and happy to repay that debt from 50 years ago,” he reflects. “My 50th Reunion seemed the perfect time to set it up.”
At Bates Ken dove into his math, physics, and chemistry classes, while also exploring the humanities, eager to learn as much as possible. After graduating, he headed straight to the University of Minnesota to earn a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. In 1978 he landed a position at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota, where he worked until 1993 in the hard-disk drive field, designing and improving the spinning disks that magnetically store the data for our computers.
“I applied all of my science education to these evolving technologies, and contributed to unbelievable technological advancements in my career—from huge round disks to much smaller ones that populate ‘the cloud,’ just an amazing acceleration of innovation and invention.”
When IBM consolidated the disk drive mission to San Jose, California in 1993, he moved with them and has loved living in California for the past 28 years. Ken credits Bates for preparing him for a financially successful career, and equally important, to be a good citizen. So when he learned about a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT), a type of life-income gift, he decided the time was right.
“It seemed a perfect time to contribute. The stock market is strong, I had saved enough money to work with, and the cap on deducting charitable donations had been temporarily lifted. This particular form of gift serves as an investment for me, similar to buying a bond at 5% interest. So it helps during my life, and when I’m gone, it will allow a young person to receive a great education—just like I did. I would love to help an incoming student major in chemistry at Bates.”
Ken is excited about the new science center and focus on equity in STEM learning underway at Bates. It’s clear that he puts his faith in the next generation, and sees an imperative in ensuring they are well-educated. He’s already set up 529 plans for his four grandchildren, ages six, four, three, and one because, as he cheerfully notes, “You can never start investing too early!”
To learn more, please contact us at 800-762-3145 or email@example.com. We look forward to working with you on a plan that benefits you and Bates students.