Since 1981, Rhonda MacDonald (BS ’74) has made at least one gift a year to Caltech—and through her estate plans, that record will continue far into the future. With her gifts to commemorate class reunions and also pay tribute to the late George W. Housner, Braun Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, she has helped Caltech provide exceptional educational opportunities for students.
From the moment she came to campus, MacDonald helped make history at Caltech. She was among the fi rst women to graduate from the Institute. Over the years MacDonald has continued to be part of the Caltech story, giving generously of her time. She served on the Board of Directors of Caltech’s Alumni Association, where she has held various positions including president. She is an active member of the Caltech Gnome Club, a supporter of the Caltech Y, and life member of the Alumni Association. She and her husband, Steven Lucas, are also members of the Caltech Associates. And with MacDonald’s connection to Caltech comes an affi nity for its current students, such as the members of the Caltech Robotics Team.
“Each year the team designs and builds an entirely autonomous underwater vehicle that navigates obstacles, identifi es and shoots at targets, and manipulates objects,” says MacDonald, who had opportunities to meet the students on this year’s competition-winning team. “In addition to developing mechanical, electrical, or programming technical skills, the students learn how to work as members of a team as they prepare their entry for competition in an annual event. As a former manager in industry, I know how important it is for engineers to develop these teamwork skills, so I enthusiastically support the team. I am so excited for them and am so proud of their accomplishments!”
Now, she and her husband have designated Caltech a benefi ciary of their retirement plan, benefi ting Caltech’s scholars for years to come. Through provisions in their estate plan, MacDonald and Lucas will establish an endowment, the Rhonda Lynne MacDonald Undergraduate Scholarship Fund, that will provide fi nancial support for undergraduate students, with a preference for those studying mechanical or civil engineering.
Caltech observes a need-blind admissions policy, which means that ability to pay has never been a deciding factor in Caltech’s selection of fi rstyear students. Today, more than half of Caltech’s undergraduates receive scholarship assistance.
“I would not have been able to attend Caltech without signifi cant fi nancial aid, so I recognize the critical importance of such aid,” MacDonald says.
“I want to do my part to enable future generations of bright engineering students to attend Caltech.”