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Raymond A. Rich Institute for Leadership Development

Largest Gift in Marist History Establishes Leadership Institute

A bequest by one of the 20th century's leading businessmen and industrialists conservatively estimated at $75 million will lead to the development of a new program to educate and train individuals in the art of leadership for careers in business, government, and the nonprofit sector.

Raymond A. Rich bequeathed to Marist a 60-acre riverfront estate in the Ulster County Town of Esopus that contains one of the most historically and architecturally significant homes in the Hudson River Valley. The "Payne Mansion," also known over the years as "Omega" and "Wiltwick," is a 42,000-square-foot Beaux Arts-style palazzo designed by the famed Manhattan firm of Carrère and Hastings, architects of the New York Public Library and the Frick Museum. It was built in 1911 by Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne, a colonel (breveted to brigadier general) in the Civil War who founded an oil refinery that was later bought by John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Co., where Payne went on to serve as treasurer. The firm of Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, whose firm designed Marist's Hancock Center, believes a residence of this significance and style would have a replacement value conservatively estimated at approximately $65 million.

In addition, Mr. Rich has designated approximately $10 million for an endowment to support the Raymond A. Rich Institute for Leadership Development, which will be housed at the Esopus estate.

The Raymond A. Rich Institute will focus on developing the communication, interpersonal, and social skills necessary to lead complex organizations in a global setting. It will accomplish this in a framework that emphasizes the values and integrity found in successful leaders. Speakers, conferences, and workshops will encourage potential leaders to become better at motivating others through consideration and persuasion, and to foster dedication to a better social and economic environment.

"When Ray first started thinking about a leadership training legacy in his estate a few years ago, he wanted it to have a special niche, focused on people's perceptions - voice, body language, presentation, etc. as an integral part of expressing integrity, sensitivity, relationships, first impressions, lasting trustfulness, and respect for others," said Claire Carlson, Mr. Rich's long-time companion and confidante and the executrix of the estate.

Following the purchase of the Payne Mansion from the Marist Brothers in 1986, Mr. Rich and Ms. Carlson were introduced to Marist College President Dennis J. Murray. "It didn't take Ray long to realize that Dennis and Marist College were the ideal conduit for his personal quest to ignite his leadership concept. Ray believed ethics, values, humility and thoughtfulness must be inherent in leadership training as primary elements. Marist College has ethics and philosophy as required courses in its curriculum. Not many colleges do," said Ms. Carlson.

Mr. Rich was an avid reader of business news, which, Ms. Carlson said, "in recent years has highlighted how lacking our leaders are in these endeavors, be they government, corporate, or nonprofit.

"He realized how dedicated Dennis Murray has been to making Marist College over the past 30 years a cornerstone in today's world with its emphasis on morality, opportunities for first-generation students, and razor-edge information technology programs. Ray sensed that the Marist board is also strongly supportive of making the college a special educational experience.

"As a result," said Ms. Carlson, "Ray decided, based on a business leader's analysis, that his concept was a perfect fit for Marist College and he looked no further."

"Ray Rich took great pride not only in building organizations but also in the thousands of jobs and the economic prosperity created by those organizations," said Marist's President Murray. "He once told me, 'The key to being a successful CEO is to hire great people, be humble in managing them, and always operate with integrity. It's not only the right thing to do, but it's also good business.' If the business leaders of today had followed his advice, I doubt our country would be in its current economic turmoil."

"The Raymond A. Rich Institute is in keeping with Marist's three overriding ideals: excellence in education, dedication to service, and fostering a sense of community," said Robert R. Dyson, chair of the Marist board of trustees. "The Marist board of trustees enthusiastically accepts Mr. Rich's very generous gift with the board's and college community's gratitude to him for his gift and for the leadership he provided throughout his life."

Raymond A. Rich

Photo of Raymond A. Rich Raymond A. Rich was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1912, the son of Arthur and Lucy Baker Rich. He was raised in Des Moines, Iowa, and started his career by hiring on to a tramp freighter for a job in the engine room at age 18. After receiving a double engineering degree from Iowa State University, he was hired in the midst of the Great Depression by General Electric Co. and became its youngest national sales manager at that time. He was awarded the rare "E Award" for overseeing GE's multiple war production plant facilities.

Mr. Rich then was asked to lead the federal Northeast District for the Council for Economic Development. He volunteered for active duty in World War II in the Navy and Marines, serving in the South Pacific Islands and in Tokyo after the Japanese surrender. He received numerous decorations for his distinguished service. After the war, Mr. Rich became vice president and director of Philco Corp. and then accepted the presidency and directorship of Avco Corp. From there his career escalated, and he went on to hold multiple, simultaneous CEO and chairman positions in numerous companies. The sectors ranged from oil and gas exploration and production, publishing, glass containers, and banking to environmental engineering and production facilities. He led U.S. Filter Corp. as chairman and CEO to a significant role in its field, increasing revenues twenty-fold in the 1970s.

Upon retiring from active corporate life, Mr. Rich focused on acquiring various real estate properties. In addition to his primary residence in Boca Grande, Florida, and his estate in Esopus, he owned at various times in his life cattle ranches in Arizona and Oklahoma, corn and soybean farms in Iowa, townhouses in New York City, homes in Maine, a castle in the Scottish Highlands, a 12th-century castle in Austria, and a chateau in France. Mr. Rich was a member of the University Club for more than 60 years and the Union Club, both in New York City, as well as the Boca Grande Club and Gasparilla Inn Club of Florida.

Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne and the Payne Estate

Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne was born in 1839 and named for the great U.S. Naval hero Oliver Hazard Perry. Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, he was a primary school classmate of John D. Rockefeller. A graduate of Yale University, where he was a classmate of William C. Whitney, Payne entered the 124th Ohio Infantry as a First Lieutenant in 1862 and served through the Civil War. After being promoted to Colonel, he was brevetted Brigadier General of Volunteers in recognition of his meritorious service during the war. Colonel Payne's sister, Flora, married Whitney, and one of their sons, Harry Payne Whitney, married Gertrude Vanderbilt.

After the war, Colonel Payne became interested in iron manufacturing and oil refining in Cleveland, founding Clark, Payne & Co. In 1872, his company was purchased by John D. Rockefeller, and Colonel Payne went on to serve as treasurer of the Standard Oil Co. and to become one of the richest men in America. In 1998, American Heritage Magazine listed Payne at number 26 on a list of the "forty wealthiest Americans of all time."

In 1905, Colonel Payne purchased the estate of John Jacob Astor in Esopus, New York, and supervised the construction of a mansion designed by Carrère and Hastings, architects of the New York Public Library and the Frick Museum in Manhattan. Payne had the palazzo constructed in a style similar to one he had seen on the Italian coast.

At the time of his death in 1917, Colonel Payne was a noted philanthropist and one of the best yachtsmen in America. Having never married, he left the Esopus property to his nephew, Harry Payne Bingham. In 1933, Bingham donated the Esopus estate to the Episcopal Diocese of New York. From 1937 to 1966, the site served as the Wiltwyck School for Boys, a noted home for troubled children in which First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt took great interest.

In 1942, the Wiltwyck School became non-sectarian and the property was divided, with a portion sold to the Marist Brothers, the founders of Marist College. Until 1986, the Brothers' portion of the estate, including the Payne Mansion, was used as a school and retreat house. Mr. Rich purchased the mansion, boathouse, and 60 acres of land from the Brothers in 1986 and restored the estate and its boathouse to their former glory.