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University dedicates Raab House

By Mark Walden on October 27, 2011
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This Saturday, while the Raiders prepare to defend their house before a crowd of Family Weekend supporters, President Jeffrey Herbst and his family will celebrate the rededication of their campus home, situated near the O’Connor Campus Center and the university observatory.


A generous gift from trustee emeritus Kirk ’59 P’12’12 and Maryann Raab paved the way for a renovation of the president’s residence, which will be named Raab House. Originally known as Watson House, the structure opened in 1962 as President Vincent Barnett took office. After 50 years of heavy usage, the house was in need of extensive renovation before the arrival of President Herbst; his wife, Sharon Polansky; and their children.

RaabHouse1.jpgPresident Jeffrey Herbst welcomes Chinese students at a reception in Raab House on October 10, 2011.

The transformation included numerous improvements to the electrical and ventilation systems: changes to boilers, air handlers, wiring, windows, and doors that have increased efficiency and will play a part in reducing the university’s overall carbon footprint.

The house was first built through a gift from Jeanette Watson in honor of her husband, IBM Chairman Thomas J. Watson Sr. One of the top business leaders of his day (and the university’s 1936 commencement speaker), Watson believed that the benefits of success should be spread in a variety of ways, across a number of different regions.

Raab, who was CEO of Genentech and currently serves as chairman of several Bay Area biotech companies, established the Raab Family Chair in Biology at Colgate in 1999 and named an endowed biology scholarship in 1987.

“We are grateful for Kirk Raab’s generosity and for the effort that university staff and contractors put into making this project a reality,” said President Herbst. “It’s another way in which we have been welcomed to Colgate — a home that we can use to help others feel welcome as well.”

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