While visiting the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, James C. Gerber ’82 learned about the opportunities it offers undergraduates to flex their entrepreneurial muscles. These range from “write your own business plan” contests to encouraging students to launch their own firms.
“Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking and acting,” Gerber said. “Princeton students in both the hard sciences and the social sciences are benefitting from the Keller programs. There are already some exciting start-ups to show for this investment.”
He cited efforts by Christine Blauvelt ’12 and Arielle Sandor ’12 to develop a job placement service for Kenyans, most of whom have cell phones but lack Internet access. Their service would use text messaging to match job seekers with employers.
To support these kinds of initiatives, Gerber established the James C. Gerber Fund for Entrepreneurship and Innovation through a charitable lead trust, which provides fixed payments to Princeton each year for a designated number of years; the remainder goes to a beneficiary, usually children or grandchildren. When interest rates are low (as they are now), transfer taxes can be eliminated completely. Gerber’s gift will provide payments to Princeton for 25 years; then it will benefit his son and daughter.
A mechanical and aerospace engineering major at Princeton, Gerber earned an MBA at Harvard. He is chief financial officer of WorldStrides, an educational travel organization for students in elementary through graduate school. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife, Ann Gerber, and their two children.
“Great ideas come from the most unexpected places,” Gerber says, “and this gift is intended to help Princeton to stay amongst the top ranks of schools where such great ideas can incubate and become reality.”