Alexander J. Sloane ’70 has given back to Blair Academy enthusiastically and generously over the years. A Trustee for more than a decade and class representative since 2007, he counts the School among his top philanthropic priorities. His many gifts to Blair include the Sloane Tennis House and three named tennis courts; the Hardwick Hall clock tower named for beloved history teacher Paul White; and three endowed scholarships that provide the opportunity of a Blair education to deserving students each year.
This summer, Mr. Sloane provided for the School’s future with a contribution that will resonate across generations of students: He pledged a third of his estate to Blair, a planned gift valued at approximately $10 million. This transformative gift represents the single largest donation in Blair Academy’s history, and it is intended solely for the support of scholarship aid. Mr. Sloane’s extraordinary generosity will fully fund the Blair experience for many students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend Blair, opening the door to a lifetime of learning and achievement for deserving young people.
This generous bequest and all of Mr. Sloane’s Blair philanthropy are inspired by his desire to share his success with the institutions that believed in him during his own student days and to ensure that the opportunity of a boarding-school education is readily available to boys and girls from all backgrounds who will truly benefit from the experience.
“We are deeply grateful for Alex’s dedicated service as a Trustee and his exceptional philanthropy over many years,” said Head of School Chris Fortunato. “As a benefactor of scholarship aid, he is leading the way to a bright future for Blair’s diverse and inclusive community and a life of unlimited possibility for the students who benefit from his generous support.”
Memorable Blair Years
Mr. Sloane’s own Blair experience took place in the late 1960s, a time characterized by a campus-wide formality that he says is hard to imagine today. His grandfather, Ward Chamberlin, class of 1899 and a World War I recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, had thrived at the School, and this had influenced his mother’s choice of Blair for Mr. Sloane’s high school years.
“I arrived as a freshman, not yet 12,” he reminisced. “Coat and tie were mandatory at meals and classes, and we were required to attend School assembly and Chapel every morning.” His first two years proved challenging, but “Blair was patient,” and he became a serious student as a junior and senior. Among the kind and engaged teachers he encountered at Blair, history teacher Paul White was especially impactful. “He noticed that I had turned things around and took me under his wing,” Mr. Sloane said. “I loved history and was eager to learn in his classes.”
From Blair, Mr. Sloane earned a bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Virginia and, in 1980, an MBA at New York University. A successful career in the investment industry enabled him to give back to each of his alma maters, especially by providing funds for scholarships. “It’s a pretty simple concept,” he explained. “I wanted to give those who may not be able to afford it the same opportunity I had been given.”
Ensuring the Blair Experience Is Open & Available
Fast forward to today, and Mr. Sloane is delighted to return to Blair each fall for the annual Scholarship Dessert Social, where he speaks to many of the School’s named scholarship recipients and spends time with the “bright, eager and enthusiastic” students he sponsors. “The Blair experience can be just the ticket that allows kids to make the most of themselves,” he said. “I want to make sure that experience is open and available to students who will benefit most from it.”
As his 50th reunion approaches in 2020 and the School embarks on its ambitious All In Strategic Plan, which will guide its course and direction for the next five to seven years, Mr. Sloane shared some final thoughts about giving to Blair. “The greatest misconception out there is that Blair is an elite school only for the privileged,” he said. “I see Blair as a serious institution that benefits society as a whole. By its very existence, the School gives many deserving young men and women a chance to succeed that would be otherwise denied to them.” As for planned gifts, he concluded, “There is no better—or more painless—way to give back than to allocate a part of your estate to the institutions that helped you along the way.”