A lifelong fascination with earth sciences, bolstered by an MIT education, influenced a philanthropic investment—one which ensures a life income now and support for EAPS students in the future.
With knee surgery coming in November, Roger Breeding is dreading grueling physical therapy and months of being denied his typically active retired life in Bozeman, Montana, where he and his wife Noreen hike and crosscountry ski. To distract himself, along with his subscription to The Economist and books on cosmology, particle physics and thermodynamics, he’ll be reading three books on volcanoes.
“They’re sort of on our scale,” he said. “All that other stuff is either a million times smaller than we have any experience with or a billion times larger. I guess that’s why I went into earth sciences.”
After something of a rocky start early in his career, earning a bachelor’s degree in physics from Wesleyan University—which he bluntly describes as “a mistake”—Breeding, in his words, “managed to get into MIT and sort of recovered.” With his MIT master’s degree in geophysics in 1965, Breeding stumbled into teaching electrical engineering at a small college in upstate New York before returning to the Institute to complete his PhD in geophysics in 1970.
From there he leapt to a postdoc at the National Center for Atmospheric Research before moving into transportation accident analysis and finding his long-term calling: doing risk analyses at nuclear power plants for companies in Idaho and Washington and at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico, doing well enough before retiring in 2002 that he and wife Noreen were comfortable giving the Institute a half-million dollars for eventual use at the grad-student level at the discretion of the department head.
“I had a good experience at MIT, and I thought MIT did well for me—I felt they sort of looked after me, and it was a good time in my life,” Breeding said. “We’re leaving most of our money to little local outfits here in Bozeman because the big national outfits get plenty of money from rich people in New York and Boston. But I thought I wanted some of it to go to MIT, particularly the earth sciences part.”
Although he’s not specifying to the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences how his gift should be used, he knows that it will likely support students, and feels the Department’s work dovetails nicely with his primary concerns: climate change and environmentally sensitive energy extraction. Breeding feels both need addressing on the way back to long-term use of nuclear power, although he knows that will come no time soon. “The problems are mostly political—the waste, the reprocessing. These things are technologically solvable,” he said.
And Breeding offered another reason he’s happy to have his money invested with MIT in a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT) that will eventually benefit EAPS when he and Noreen have gone. “We didn’t have any kids to put through MIT so the money we saved is going into this trust that generates a life income,” he said with classic Western bluntness, “The return on the money is really good...You can’t get five percent anywhere on anything!”
“So what’s not to like? I get to leave money to a place I want it to go and it’s a good deal financially,” he said.
For information on estate planning and life income gifts, please contact Angela Ellis, EAPS Sr. Development Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or MIT’s gift planning department at email@example.com or visit http://giving.mit.edu/ways/planning/
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For further information on giving opportunities or creating a named fund to benefit the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, please contact:
Senior Development Officer
Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT
617 253 5796
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