’55 Dedicates $1.65M Gift to PBHA

Members of Harvard’s Class of 1955 have raised over $1.65 million for the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) as part of the 50th reunion gift this year, in order to endow the Executive Director’s position.

This fund-raising drive was led by Francis H. Duehay ’55 and is part of the larger PBHA Centennial Campaign to raise $7.25 million, of which Duehay is a co-chair.

“I realized the powerful effect that the programs had on the community and I wanted to help out,” Duehay said.

“I think the program is one of the most important extracurricular activities in which students participate,” wrote Murray H. Helfant in an e-mail, who serves as the Class of 1955 Technology Officer and helped Duehay with the endowment drive. “I think the program is one of the most important extracurricular activities in which students participate.”

Duehay, who also serves on his permanent class committee as a representative from Adams House, said he saw the upcoming 50th reunion as a way to initiate a special campaign for PBHA. The campaign has surpassed its stated goal of $1.5 million, with three weeks left in the drive.

This was made possibly largely by a flurry of donations in the past month and a half, during which time close to half the funds were received.

“If you would have asked me six or eight weeks ago I would not have been able to say that we were going to make it,” Duehay said.

Students at PBHA have been involved in the drive as well.

Yi Tian ’05, Centennial Campaign co-chair, organized phone banks and letter campaigns to alumni, explaining that PBHA had grown larger in recent years, requiring more funds.

“The class of 55 has been outstanding,” Tian said. “Many members of the class have been very generous.”

Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 also thanked the class Sunday night at a reception at the Phillips Brooks House.

But Christine D.T.A. Tran ’04-’05, who was hired by PBHA after graduation in January as a Campaign Associate, insisted that Duehay deserves much of the credit for seeing that the funds got raised for the organization.

“Its really his hard work and enthusiasm,” Tran said. “He encouraged his classmates.”

Tian said that the influx of money will free up funds for different student programs, making it less necessary for directors to apply for grants from outside associations, and providing greater stability when planning long-term planning projects.

“They won’t have to worry about the nickels and dimes,” said Tran, who used to be the Vice President of PBHA. "It’ll be great.”

—Staff writer Evan R. Johnson can be reached at erjohns@fas.harvard.edu.