Friends donate $10 million for largest Whitman College dorm
Princeton NJ -- Longtime friends have combined forces to fund construction of the largest dormitory in the new Whitman College complex. The gift, which will total $10 million, comes from Charter Trustee Peter C. Wendell '72 and his wife Lynn Mellen Wendell '77, together with Scott D. Cook, co-founder of the financial software company Intuit, and his wife Signe Ostby.
"This wonderful gift comes at a critical time, as we prepare to expand our undergraduate enrollment and welcome more outstanding students to campus," said President Tilghman. "We are deeply grateful to the Wendell and Cook families for their vision and generosity."
Whitman, designed in the collegiate gothic style by noted architect and 1980 graduate alumnus Demetri Porphyrios, is the first of Princeton's colleges to be built from the ground up rather than pieced together from existing structures. The new L-shaped dormitory, a prominent part of Whitman College's northern quadrangle, will be named Wendell Hall, in honor of Peter Wendell's late parents, Virginia and Eugene Wendell. "My mother and father loved to visit the Princeton campus," he said, "and I think that they would be so pleased that many generations of students will enjoy living and learning in this gothic building."
Wendell, the founder and a general partner of the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sierra Ventures, is a dedicated alumni leader. In addition to serving as a trustee, he chairs the board of directors of the Princeton University Investment Co., advises the University on information technology and is a member of the trustees' Committee on University Resources. He is also a faculty member at Stanford's Graduate School of Business and on the board of directors of Merck & Co.
The Wendells -- who have six children, including last year's Pyne Honor Prize recipient Christopher S. Wendell '03 -- live in San Francisco, where Lynn Wendell chairs the University High School board of trustees. Their gifts to Princeton have included support for annual giving and for a range of campus activities, from the sociology department to the Student Volunteers Council to the lacrosse program.
The Wendell/Cook gift to Princeton reflects friendships that began on the East Coast and then moved west. Lynn Wendell was a classmate of eBay president and chief executive officer Meg Whitman, a 1977 Princeton alumna. Whitman and her family gave the $30 million lead gift for the college. Scott Cook met Peter Wendell when the two were students at Harvard Business School. Wendell's firm subsequently provided venture capital for Intuit, and Cook now serves as a director of eBay.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Cook is chair of the executive committee of Intuit, maker of software programs such as Quicken and TurboTax. He serves on the board of the Asia Foundation and on the board of visitors of Harvard Business School. Cook and Ostby, former vice president of marketing at Software Publishing Corp., live with their three children in Silicon Valley. Their philanthropy extends from local causes to the University of Wisconsin, where Ostby received her undergraduate and graduate degrees.
"My involvement with eBay has provided a rare treat in working with Meg. I'm very grateful for Pete's help in building Intuit. Pete and Meg -- two very busy people -- both make time in their lives for Princeton," Cook said. "Their enthusiasm is infectious, and we're glad to now be part of this terrific project."
Wendell Hall will be one of seven Whitman College dormitories. (For information on the construction schedule, see the story in this issue.) As part of a major reorganization of Princeton's residential college system, Whitman will include students from all four undergraduate classes as well as graduate students.