by Pete Mazzaccaro
Chestnut Hill Academy made an impression on Cyrus H. Nathan, class of 1930. The Litchfield, Conn. man who died on April 20 left the school $2.2 million to establish a distinguished faculty fund and awards.
According to a release by the school, Nathan’s gift will establish six faculty chairs in five major academic subjects – English, history, language, math and science — and one in arts and music. Faculty members pre-K through 12 at CHA and Springside School who teach co-educational courses will be eligible for awards from the fund.
According to CHA headmaster Frank Steel, Nathan’s gift is the second largest in the history of the school. The largest was $5 million made 10 years ago.
Steel called the gift “transformational” and emphasized that a school could upgrade its facilities and technology but nothing was more important to a top school than the quality of its teachers.
“This allows us to reward and attract the best teachers,” Steel said. “This brings us to the front edge for attracting these teachers and keeping them here for years to come.”
Nathan, who spent his childhood all over the world as the son of a U.S. consul, attended the school for only two years but clearly believed his experience at the all-boys school was central to his early adulthood.
“We have a number of alumni from that generation for which their experience here was an important part of their life.” Steel said. “My understanding was that he considered his experience here a changing point and that CHA helped him grow into the person he became.”
Nathan went on to become a successful executive in advertising, in both creative and management roles, and was part of Nelson Rockefeller’s Office of Inter-American Affairs during World War II, which worked to counter Nazi influence in Latin America. Nathan traveled to Chile during that time to broadcast pro-American radio programs.
Steel said that Nathan had kept in touch with the school throughout his life and was a regular contributor. He said he was not surprised to receive a gift from Nathan’s estate.
“When we learned the amount, it was a nice surprise,” he said.