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(Boston) – Philanthropist Robert J. Hildreth, vice chair of Boston University’s Board of Overseers, has donated $2 million to Creative Writing Programs at the College of Arts & Sciences, and challenged alumni to raise an additional $1 million, announced Robert A. Brown, BU president.
The $2-million base donation will equally fund the Leslie Epstein International Visiting Professorship in Creative Writing, and the Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship Fund in Creative Writing, with the express goals of honoring the respective BU professors and fostering the creative development of student writers. The $1-million Visiting Professorship is a challenge grant designed to motivate supplementary gifts that match or exceed the initial contribution.
“Bob Hildreth’s generous donation reflects his much appreciated support of the arts at BU and his desire to reinforce the global exchange of ideas among faculty and students,” said Brown. “We are very grateful for his gift which elevates the university’s commitment to engagement with the world, while acknowledging the longstanding and remarkable contributions of outstanding faculty.”
The Hildreth contribution follows the March announcement of a $10.5-million donation to BU’s Medical School, the institution’s largest, a $1 million annual fund challenge pledge in April from BU Trustee Sidney J. Feltenstein and his wife, Lisa; and in May, a $1.5-million gift from an alum to the College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College (SAR), the largest individual pledge in the school’s history, and a $3.1-million grant to the School of Social Work from Atlantic Philanthropies.
The visiting professorship, which honors Epstein, a Guggenheim Fellow, Rhodes Scholar and director of BU’s Creative Writing Program for more than 30 years, will bring to campus distinguished writers from around the world whose work, knowledge and perspectives will enhance the creative writing program through teaching and mentorship of students in the Creative Writing program.
Pinsky, who teaches in BU’s graduate writing program, served as poet laureate of the United States from 1997–2000. The fellowships, which provide a capstone international travel experience for MFA graduate students in Creative Writing, are a tribute to Pinsky’s illustrious career as an acclaimed poet, translator, critic and teacher.
“It’s truly inspiring to see such generosity for this great program,” said BU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Virginia Sapiro. “This gift will make one of the best creative writing programs in the country even better by giving our students and faculty an opportunity to work closely with major writers from around the world, and by expanding our students’ horizons as writers by giving them international experience at a critical time.”
Hildreth, a Melrose, Mass.-native, is a longtime supporter of the Boston University/Chelsea Partnership, the university’s 20-year initiative in the Chelsea Public Schools. A substantial gift from Hildreth made possible the completion of construction of what has become a nationally recognized early learning center in Chelsea. Subsequent gifts have supported program assessment and improvement as well as expansion of classroom staffing to provide additional enrollment capacity.
Hildreth is recognized in Chelsea not only as a benefactor but as a valued counselor due to his longstanding engagement and his careful study of the challenges of providing quality pre-K education.
He is the founder and president of International Bank Services, Inc. (IBS), a Boston-based company that trades and services bank loans from Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America.
Prior to founding IBS, Hildreth was vice president of Citibank in New York and senior vice president of Drexel Burnham Lambert in Los Angeles. From 1975 to 1981, he was an economist for the International Monetary Fund in the western hemisphere department and resident representative in Bolivia.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University who earned master’s degrees from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and George Washington University, Hildreth was named to the BU Board of Overseers in 2007.
The son of two teachers, he has supported literacy and citizenship classes in Lynn, Mass.
In March 2007, Hildreth generously posted $200,000 in bail money for undocumented aliens arrested by federal immigration agents in a New Bedford, Mass. factory raid. His payments forestalled immediate deportation of some 40 individuals and bought time for their defense. “The raid broke families apart,” said Hildreth in the Wall Street Journal.