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Gift to strengthen College’s international program


Frederick Klemm, professor emeritus of German – considered the “father of Terms Abroad” - and his wife have given a $1 million endowed gift to the College.

The Professor Frederick A. Klemm and Eleanor G. Klemm Fund for International Study and Service will be used to develop College programs that prepare students for international careers in government service, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The gift will also support service aspects of the Terms Abroad program.

A longtime resident of nearby Niskayuna, Klemm died Nov. 29, 2010. He was 97. Klemm, who taught at Union from 1947 to 1978, inaugurated the College’s Terms Abroad program by guiding a group of 28 students to Vienna, Austria, in spring 1969. He traveled widely with his wife, whom he credited as the inspiration for what he called “Union’s first organized invasion into classrooms abroad.” Eleanor Klemm died in 2004.

Today, more than 60 percent of Union’s students enjoy an international study experience in dozens of countries across the globe.

“We are honored the Klemms chose to preserve their legacy here through this generous bequest,” said College President Stephen C. Ainlay. “Their gift will make a significant impact in the lives of students and faculty by strengthening all aspects of our Terms Abroad programs and will better prepare our students for international careers.”

Klemm received an undergraduate degree from Dickinson College, a master’s from Duke University and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946.

In addition to directing Terms Abroad from 1970 through 1977, Klemm was chair of Modern Languages and chair of the Humanities division. He served as director of the New York State Federation of Foreign Language Teachers, vice president of the American Association of Teachers of German and secretary of the German Literature Section of the Modern Language Association.

He received the Faculty Meritorious Service Award from the Alumni Council when he retired in 1978. Even in retirement, he was a frequent visitor to campus. In 2002, Klemm and his wife were honored by the College, and his photograph was unveiled in the International Programs office.

In 2009, Klemm was a guest of honor at a tribute dinner for Stephen Ciesinski ’70, past chairman of the Board of Trustees and a student on the 1969 Vienna trip.

“When we traveled to Austria, ours was a much smaller world without the kinds of international connections we have today,” said Ciesinski, vice president of Strategic Business Development, SRI International, Inc. “But for me, personally, I was able to develop a more global perspective as a direct result of that experience. That trip inspired me to enjoy the adventure of educational and professional travel throughout my life and career.”