Riddells Support GTU Scholarships with $5.7M Estate Gift

From Skylight Magazine, Fall 2017

Robert and Kathryn Riddell were faithful supporters of both the Graduate Theological Union and Pacific School of Religion for more than fifty years. After Kathryn Riddell’s death earlier this year, the schools learned that this incredibly generous couple had bequeathed more than $5.7 million to the GTU and over $900,000 to PSR through their estate and planned gifts. The Riddell family’s gift is the largest donation in the history of the GTU.

The $5.7 million gift will support student financial aid at the GTU through the Riddell Presidential Scholarship Fund.

In addition to the presidential scholarship established in their name at the GTU, the Riddells’ faithful contributions have funded a chair in Biblical Archeology at PSR (currently held by Dr. Aaron Brody), and have provided student scholarship aid at PSR. Kay and Robert Riddell were also supporters of the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, the Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology, and the Center for the Arts & Religion.

Beyond the GTU, Kay and Robert Riddell were major contributors to their church, First Congregational Church of Berkeley. They also established the Robert and Kathryn Riddell Fund at the San Francisco Foundation, which has provided hundreds of children in the Bay Area with opportunities to engage in environmental education programs.

GTU President Riess Potterveld said: “I had the pleasure of working with the Riddells for three decades. They had a passion for flowers and gardens and maintained an incredible garden of various rhododendrons next to their hilltop home. Kay was a long time docent at the Oakland Museum and had a deep and abiding love for culture, art, and the environment. Bob helped revitalize the University of California Botanical Garden. If you want a model for good and gracious stewards of resources, you could well start with the Riddells. Thanks to their generosity, countless students and future leaders will be supported through the reduction of their educational costs.”


You can support future generations of interreligious leaders in the same way Robert and Kathryn Riddell have. A planned gift is a wonderful way to sustain groundbreaking interreligious education and leave your legacy at GTU, while meeting your own financial goals.

Planned gifts can be used to support our centers of distinction, provide funding for faculty positions, or create student scholarships. Undesignated gifts enable the GTU to respond to changing needs and new opportunities. Your gift will support and inspire students, faculty, and the GTU for generations to come.

 If you would like more information on planned giving, or if you have already made a planned gift to GTU, please contact us. We look forward to working with you and welcoming you into the GTU’s Legacy Society.