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The Albany Academies announce $3 million gift from former student



The Albany Academies announced today that they have received a $3 million legacy gift from a former student, with the potential for an additional $750,000 donation after final probate. The bequest, one of the largest legacy gifts the schools have ever received, came from Robert L. Gifford, who died in 2018 at his home in Sarasota, Fla.

Gifford was born in Troy and graduated from The Albany Academy in 1940. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. After completing his education, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served the country for 30 years, ending his Navy career as a captain. 

“Bob Gifford traveled the world throughout his career and during his retirement, visiting more than 40 countries, but he never forgot his roots here in the Capital Region and all he gained as an Albany Academy student,” said Christopher Lauricella, Head of School. “His love of this school and all it did to help him lead a successful and interesting life is evident in his extremely generous gift to the school. Our current and future students will benefit greatly from his gift and we are extremely grateful.”

Gifford’s sister-in-law, Peg Gifford, who resides in Ballston Spa, remembered his fondness for The Albany Academy. “Bob’s gift came as no surprise as he often reflected on the impact of his time at Albany Academy. He spoke fondly of the experience and the foundation it gave him for building such a fulfilling life,” she said. “It was clear to Bob early on in life that he wanted to give back so that others could experience full lives after receiving the foundation of an Albany Academies education. I am very pleased to know he will live on through this gift.”

A large portion of the gift – $1 million – is being directed toward the newly created Gifford Faculty Innovation Awards, which will present five $10,000 awards annually to faculty members to help them bring new and innovative teaching ideas into the classroom.

Faculty members will be required to complete an application and those will be reviewed by an external advisory board whose members will select grant recipients. Each grant will be made for one academic year and is intended to support the creation of a new program or piece of curriculum; $6,000 of each grant will be directed toward materials or training and the remaining $4,000 will supplement the teacher’s salary. Applicants must be able to provide evidence that the program or curriculum can be sustainable beyond the first year and also provide a way of measuring and presenting student outcomes, which will then be presented on an annual basis.

“This gift will help us support an important goal embedded in our strategic plan, to attract, retain and engage a highly qualified faculty and staff with the skills and competencies necessary to meet our mission of developing diligent students of high character who become curious, critical thinkers,” said Lauricella.  “When we shared this with Peg, she thought it was a perfect tribute to Bob’s lifelong love of learning, which began at The Albany Academy.”

The Gifford legacy gift also will be used to support professional development programs and training for the Academies’ faculty. In addition, $1 million of the bequest will be dedicated to ongoing capital improvements on the campus.

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