Alumnus gifts more than $6 million to CU-Boulder to bolster economics, Baroque music

By Staff

An estate gift of just over $6 million from a music-loving economics alumnus will create three major new endowments benefiting the Department of Economics and the College of Music at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Funding from the gift will endow two faculty chairs—one in economics and one in Baroque music—and create a unique travel sabbatical program for undergraduates.

The $6 million commitment by donor Eugene D. Eaton Jr. is the largest gift CU-Boulder has received since 2007 and represents a remarkable statement by the donor of the value of the fine arts and social sciences to his life’s trajectory.

“This cross-disciplinary gift from an alumnus who remembered us in his will is leaving a legacy for generations of students,” said Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “Bequests like this shape the future of CU-Boulder and we are grateful.”

Eaton earned three economics degrees from CU-Boulder: a bachelor’s in 1965, a master’s in 1967 and a doctorate in 1971. While economics engaged his mind and led to his successful career as a consultant in Alaska, it was music that riveted the economist outside of the classroom. As a student, Eaton attended many of the College of Music’s concerts and embraced deep discussions with the economics faculty; from afar he continued his interest in CU until his death in 2013.

Professor Nicholas E. Flores, chair of the Department of Economics, said the $2.36 million endowment to economics will substantially enhance the department’s ability to attract the most distinguished scholars and practitioners. Also, a $1.36 million endowment will fund a new travel sabbatical program, which will enable undergraduate students in economics to broaden their knowledge of the marketplace in a culture other than their own.

“On all levels, this gift is huge for us,” Flores said. “You get expertise and a record of scholarship immediately from a senior scholar, and I’m unaware of any place that has a sabbatical program like this for undergraduates. This is a game-changer.”

The gift’s remainder of $2.36 million will fund an endowed chair of Baroque music in the College of Music. It is the college’s fifth gift of more than $1 million in the past 18 months. Last month, the college received gifts to establish endowments for the Eklund Opera Program and the Ritter Family Classical Guitar Program. Last December the college unveiled a scholarship endowment for elite performing student-musicians and in early 2013 an endowment for the Thompson Jazz Studies Program was established.

“The CU-Boulder College of Music deeply appreciates Eugene Eaton’s significant bequest, which will enable us to expand our offerings in Baroque music through the creation of a new faculty position in this area,” said Robert Shay, dean of the College of Music. “This gift is a real testament to the impact of music, which in this case crossed disciplinary lines and clearly touched the life of a former CU student in a lasting and meaningful way.”

The Department of Economics is one of the largest departments on the CU-Boulder campus, with more than 1,200 undergraduate majors and 90 doctoral students. The department’s faculty members have research expertise in a range of niches including health economics, transportation and energy economics, development economics and core areas of microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics. The department has received top-15 rankings in environmental/resource economics, international trade and economic history.

Since its founding in 1920, the CU-Boulder College of Music has earned a reputation not only for preparing students for successful careers in music but also for providing them with an outstanding liberal arts education. With 300 undergraduate and 250 graduate students, the college features a 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Faculty members include renowned performers, composers, educators and scholars who take a deep and lasting interest in their students. With seven degree plans and more than 23 fields of study, programs cover virtually all areas of music.