Former Board Chair Jim Weinberg Dies at 87
by Shane Zackery '14
Sidney J. (Jim) Weinberg, Jr., former chairman of the Scripps College Board of Trustees, beloved friend of the College, and senior director of the Goldman Sachs Group, died October 4, 2010, of prostate cancer, in Marion, Massachusetts. He was 87.
Weinberg’s tenure as chairman spanned three presidencies at Scripps College, from 1986-1991. His superb leadership during that time, marked by transition and financial challenge, is widely recognized as laying the groundwork for the College’s remarkable success in the last two decades. President Lori Bettison-Varga said, “Without Jim Weinberg, Scripps College might well be a different place today. We owe him a great debt of gratitude, as well as our love for an exemplary human being.”
Weinberg’s affiliation with Scripps began in 1969 when Elizabeth ’74, the first of his two daughters and current Scripps College trustee, enrolled as a first-year student; Sydney ’75 followed her sister to Scripps the following year, and his son, Peter, enrolled at Claremont McKenna College four years later. Weinberg was continuously involved with the College, as a strong financial supporter, an effective volunteer, and as a committed trustee. He never hesitated to accept the obligations of multiple board committee memberships and chairmanships even though they required him to commute from New York City to meetings in California.
During his first year as board chairman, Scripps embarked on the most ambitious capital campaign in its history. Despite the fact that the College previously had raised only $8 million in a capital campaign, Weinberg encouraged the Board to set what many considered the audacious goal of $41.3 million. During the next three years, his advice, numerous personal solicitations, strategic planning, and powers of positive persuasion were key to the College exceeding its goal by $12.2 million dollars. That $53.5 million dollars doubled the Scripps endowment and made it possible for the College to enter the 1990s on strong financial footing.
Another essential part of Weinberg’s service to Scripps was as an effective advocate of women’s leadership. This trait extended beyond words into action by appointing women to leadership roles as chairs of key committees on the Board. He was also a strong supporter of the selection of the College’s first woman president, Nancy Y. Bekavac.
For his service, in 2001, the College gave Weinberg the Ellen Browning Scripps Society award, the only man to date to be recognized with this honor.
Linda Davis Taylor, current chair of the Board, said, “With every encounter, Jim Weinberg had a remarkable ability to inspire us all to strive to follow his example — do more, aim higher, and serve with kindness.”
On his retirement as chair of the Board, the trustees, along with business associates, family, and friends, established in his honor the Sidney J. Weinberg, Jr., Chair in Natural Science, thus ensuring that his name will continue to be associated with supporting the education of Scripps College women in science.
In February of 2010, the Sidney J. Weinberg, Jr. Foundation created the Weinberg Family Dean of Science Endowment Fund, with a gift of $3 million to Scripps College, and $2 million to Claremont McKenna College, to support the newly established position of dean for the Joint Science Department and to provide research funds to encourage student-faculty research projects that will propel undergraduate science in Claremont to even greater levels of success.
Weinberg’s interest and support of science also extended to the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), where he was an important voice guiding that institution during its formative years, becoming founding chair of the board, and emeritus chair at the time of his death. In 2007, he was one of the first recipients of an honorary Doctorate of Applied Life Sciences from KGI.
He leaves his wife of 59 years, Elizabeth; his three children, Elizabeth Weinberg Smith, Sydney Weinberg, and Peter Weinberg; two stepsons, James and Alan McCord; a stepdaughter, Laura Grauer; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren, many friends, and other relatives.
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