There are almost as many ways to make a gift to Caltech as there are reasons people decide to support the Institute. 

scudder Thayer “Ted” Scudder, Caltech professor of anthropology from 1964 to 2000, now professor emeritus

Retired faculty member Ted Scudder and his  wife, Eliza, for example, set their sights on the future of social sciences research and teaching. Their estate plans include two gifts to Caltech. 

A leading expert on dams and their long-term effects on communities and global ecosystems, Ted Scudder joined the Caltech faculty in 1964. Over the course of his career, he conducted numerous studies spanning multiple generations to help predict the environmental, economic, and sociocultural effects of relocating populations for river basin development. His work has helped preserve the lands and livelihoods of millions of people across Africa as well as in India, Nepal, Jordan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,  
Sri Lanka, and the United States.

“I’m gratified to know that my research has benefited, and continues to benefit, millions of people around the world,” Scudder says.

Throughout his tenure at Caltech, Scudder appreciated the Institute’s trust in him. As a researcher who always focused on longitudinal impact, he says he can’t imagine any other institution that would have afforded him the freedom to embark on projects nearly 50 years in scope.

The Scudders have returned that trust with their endowment gift to create the Eliza and Thayer Scudder Professorship in the Social Sciences. 


The Scudders worked with development officers at Caltech to design a plan best suited for the assets they wanted to give. After exploring their options, the couple decided to combine two giving vehicles: a bequest of a brokerage account paired with a retained life estate gift. 

Each gift reduced the Scudders’ estate tax  liability and will simplify the responsibilities of the executor for their estate.

A bequest is one of the most straightforward forms of planned giving, which makes this a popular option for donors. But some individuals, like the Scudders, gladly delve into the more involved route of retained life estate gifts because of the particular benefits they reap.

A retained life estate gift is an irrevocable gift of a partial interest in real estate. This giving vehicle provides an immediate charitable deduction in the year it is made, with an additional five-year carryforward for any unused deductions.

Through this type of plan, the Scudders gave the remainder interest in their property to Caltech, but they will continue to reside in their home for the rest of their lives. When the retained life estate ends, Caltech will use proceeds from the sale of the property to fully fund the Scudder Professorship.

The Scudders view their gift as an investment that will enable Caltech scholars to undertake ambitious, yet-to-be-defined inquiries for generations to come.