Caltech Gets $40 Million as Beckman Pledge Is Met

Times Staff Writer

Orange County industrialist Arnold O. Beckman and his wife, Mabel, gave $40 million to Caltech last month, fulfilling a pledge made in June, 1986, the Pasadena institute announced Thursday.

The $40-million gift, in stock, bonds and cash, will be used to establish a research center on the campus for innovative work in chemistry and biology, Caltech fund-raising Vice President Theodore Hurwitz said Thursday.

About $25 million will be spent on a 106,000-square-foot building to house the Beckman Institute and the rest will go toward faculty salaries and research projects, he said. The center is to open in October, 1989.

“Even after Black Monday, which was Oct. 19, we had no hesitation that we would receive the money,” Hurwitz said, recalling the stock market plunge. “The money was coming from the Beckmans’ foundation, so the money had been set aside. And the foundation had made a commitment to us.”


Had to Raise $10 Million

To receive the $40 million, Caltech had to raise $10 million on its own from other foundations, businesses and individuals. Hurwitz said it is coincidental that Caltech reached this $10-million goal the same month the stock market crashed.

A spokesman for the Beckman Foundation in Newport Beach said he could not comment on whether it had been difficult for the foundation to come up with $40 million just a week after the collapse of the market.

Hurwitz said: “The money did not come to us in a brown paper bag. . . . And as you can imagine, the $40 million did not come to us in a lump sum.


“It came to us over a series of days during the last week in October. And it came to us through a combination of cash (in the form of a check) and securities (stocks and bonds), which took time to be valued.”

Another $10 Million

Under the terms of last year’s pledge by the Beckmans, who live in Corona del Mar, Caltech will be entitled to another $10 million if it can raise $10 million in matching funds from other sources. The school has already started a campaign to raise that money.

“Our fund-raising is going remarkably well in light of the tragic stock market debacle,” Hurwitz said. “Indications are that we will be able to reach our goal in the next year or so. But I was more confident about the economic climate before Black Monday, when the stock market fell 500 points.”


Beckman, the 87-year-old founder and chairman of Beckman Instruments in Fullerton, could not be reached for comment Thursday.