Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Robert L. Payton, First Head of Center on Philanthropy, Dies at 84

It's a sad day in the world of philanthropy with the news that Robert L. Payton, one of the founders of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, passed away at the age of 84.  According to friends of Payton, he died on May 19th at nursing facility in Scottsdale, AZ, which he had been staying at after a fall he suffered during a seizure on April 13.  The NonProfit Times reported that The Center on Philanthropy was informed of Mr. Payton's death yesterday, and was working to release a statement.  That statement has not yet been posted, though we will update this post as soon as it is released.  Here is a brief biography of Mr. Payton's life from NPT's story:

Payton was Professor Emeritus of Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University and Senior Research Fellow of the Center on Philanthropy. He served as first director of the Center on Philanthropy from 1988-93. The Center on Philanthropy is located on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis and serves the eight campuses of the university structure.

Payton served was president of the Exxon Education Foundation and prior to that served as president of C.W. Post College and Hofstra University, both in New York, according to the Center on Philanthropy’s website.

Payton was United States Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon in West Africa from 1967-69. His career also included nine years at Washington University in St. Louis, during five years of which he was vice chancellor for development.

According to his Center on Philanthropy biography, “Payton was educated at the University of Chicago where he received a master's degree in history (his only earned degree).” In 1988 the University of Chicago awarded him its Alumni Medal. He received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Indiana University in May, 2000. He holds honorary doctorates from Adelphi University, MacMurray College, York College of Pennsylvania, Quinnipiac College, and Rollins College. He received the Distinguished Service to Education Award of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in 1984.

And here are some reactions (also published in the NPT story) to his death from those that worked with him:

Eugene R. Tempel, Ph.D, President of the Indiana University Foundation: “I learned so much from Bob. I saw him as a mentor and teacher in addition to being a good colleague.  Along with him being a giant in the field, he created the field."

Adrian Sargeant, Ph.D, the Robert F. Hartsook Professor of Fundraising at The Center on Philanthropy: “Though his personal philanthropy he showed us all how to find meaning in the most difficult of circumstances and through the creation of the Joseph and Matthew Payton Philanthropic Studies Library he leaves a fitting and lasting tribute not only to the memory of his sons, but also to one man's passion for a field of human endeavor that he rightly felt was capable of bringing out the best in all of us.”

We will update this post as soon as the official statement from The Center on Philanthropy is released.  Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Mr. Payton.

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