The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

CEO of Levi Strauss & Co. Chip Bergh ’79, wife Juliet, gift millions to fund student opportunities

Students may be able to begin utilizing the funds from Chip Bergh ’79 and his wife Juliet’s gift as early as this summer. (Photo courtesy of Levi Strauss & Co.)

Chip Bergh ‘79, the president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., and his wife Juliet donated $5.25 million to Lafayette College so that students can pursue research, study abroad and internship opportunities regardless of their financial need. 

In honor of the college’s bicentennial anniversary, the Bergh Family Fellows (BFF) will help fund 200 students for the next five years so that they can pursue a wide range of opportunities. The Bergh family had previously provided a gift for the Bergh Startup Accelerator, a 10-week summer program associated with the Dyer Center that offers students an opportunity to develop their startup ideas.

“It really is just about leveling the playing field and creating more equal access to these kinds of experiences that can be life-changing,” Bergh said of the most recent gift. 

President Hurd added that the gift is “absolutely game-changing” and appreciates the Berghs’ vision. 

According to Hurd, the donation is a “current-use gift,” which means that instead of going to the endowment, the funds will be available students as early as this summer. 

Details on what the funding will specifically be used for and how students can apply for it must still be worked out.

Hurd said that she has been in contact with groups including the different academic divisions, the provost’s office and the career center with respect to the funding. Among other uses, the funding could be used to increase the number of EXCEL research programs, support students as they take on unpaid internships and improve study abroad opportunities, she said. 

The college is also seeking support from other donors who are willing to endow 200 annual student experiences for a total of $20 million, which could make the program permanent. Bergh, who noted how formative Lafayette was in his personal and professional life, said that the gift sets the college apart from other institutions and the opportunities it will create will likely be a drawing point for prospective students.

“We’re so excited to be able to kick off the campaign with this big gift and challenge others to step up and endow some of these scholarships over time, too,” Bergh said.

Beyond this donation, the Berghs provided a second gift that established the Illan Peleg Excellence in Mentoring Award, which will provide $10,000 to a faculty member who has done exceptional work supporting students inside and outside the classroom. 

The faculty member will be chosen based on recommendations provided by students, faculty, staff and alumni to a yet-to-be-established faculty and alumni committee. The first Peleg Award will be given at the end of this school year and will be awarded annually thereafter, according to Lafayette Communications.

Bergh, who studied international affairs and was a member of ROTC at Lafayette, had Peleg as his advisor. “I probably took more classes with him than any other single professor,” he said. The two developed a close relationship that lasted long after Bergh graduated.

“I thought it would be neat to recognize the impact that a professor can have on their students not just while they’re in school, but even after they’ve left school,” he said. 

Peleg, who said it was a “great honor” to be recognized, echoed Bergh’s comments about the importance of being not merely a teacher but a mentor. 

“Mentoring is really one of the most important roles of the faculty member,” he said. “[Lafayette] is the kind of institution that really allows students to reach out to faculty and faculty to respond to them in a way that really impacts students’ lives.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Nathan Kornfeind, Editor-in-Chief
Nathan Kornfeind is a senior from the Lehigh Valley studying  Government & Law and German, with a minor in History. He has been writing for The Lafayette since his first semester on campus. In addition to his role with the newspaper, he is the president of German Club.

Comments (0)

All Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *