Ende's new job in Africa sustains Princeton ties

Nov. 12, 2002 11:55 a.m.

The packed boxes around Howard Ende's office at 120 Alexander St. signified the close of one chapter in his life. But his black tie with the gold elephants marching across it suggested the opening of another.

Ende, a member of Princeton's legal staff for 28 years and general counsel since 1991, left the University at the end of October to become president of the Mpala Wildlife Foundation. The foundation is the primary funding arm for the Mpala Research Center, a research, education and training facility located in central Kenya.

"I don't look at it as a retirement or a resignation, but as a transition to a new position in which I can continue to serve Princeton," Ende said in March 2001 when he announced his plans. The center focuses on ecological and social sciences education and research, and is administered by the Mpala Research Trust, a collaborative undertaking by the foundation, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the National Museums of Kenya, the Smithsonian Institution and Princeton.

Ende has spent the last year and a half finishing his term as general counsel, then serving as senior counsel. He also has been traveling to Kenya and preparing for his next adventure.

Ende first learned about Mpala through his work. A dozen years ago, he began assisting George Small, a 1943 Princeton graduate, in setting up a trust. Small owned 47,000 acres in Kenya, and wanted to dedicate that property to preserving the land, wildlife and natural resources of the region and to improving the quality of life of area residents. The center opened in 1994 and today is the premier facility of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Ende.

He traveled to the center several times over the years as the University's representative to the trust, including spending a six-week sabbatical there in 1998. "As I got to know George Small, I was incredibly impressed with his commitment to Princeton and to this project," Ende said. "Over the years, we discussed the long-term management of the project. At George's request, I thought I would get more involved when I could."

Ende's involvement became more critical in recent years as Small's health began to fail and he was unable to continue overseeing the center's activities. "I had to start thinking about what that meant for me," Ende said. "I decided this would be a good time to 'reinvent' myself and transition into this new project."

Taking the reins of the foundation this fall is somewhat bittersweet for Ende -- his friend George Small died on Sept. 16, 2002. Upon his death, the entire Mpala property -- to which Small had added 3,500 acres for the research center -- was turned over to the foundation.

The full story is available in the Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601