CU-Boulder’s first endowed telecom chair to be funded by $4 million gift

February 23, 2016 •

A $4 million bequest from the estate of a couple committed to the standardization of telecommunications will help establish the first endowed chair in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program (ITP) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The pioneering program is part of the College of Engineering and Applied Science and integrates law, policy, business and engineering.

The Jack Baskin Endowed Chair in Technical Interoperability and Standards, for which a holder of the position has yet to be named, will be funded in perpetuity once the estate matures. The gift is a contribution toward a $10 million fundraising initiative, to be launched by the College of Engineering and Applied Science, to establish three endowed chairs and 10 endowed graduate fellowships within ITP. So far, $5 million has been raised for the effort. 

Endowed chairs and fellowships provide reliable funding for the recruitment and retention of world-class educators and researchers in a specified academic area. They also bolster the stature and influence of the program.

“The Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program is the oldest and best interdisciplinary program in telecommunications in the country,” said Dean Robert H. Davis of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “The generous gift will expand the scope of ITP and further its position as a world leader in the growing field of telecommunications.”

More than 3,000 CU students have graduated from ITP since its founding in 1971. ITP currently enrolls 180 students in its graduate-level tracks in network engineering, network security, wireless engineering, and telecom strategy and policy.

The telecommunications industry encompasses Internet service providers, broadband application providers, wireless carriers, telephone companies, as well as cable and satellite operators, said ITP faculty director David Reed.

“After two decades of deregulation, today’s industry features innovative hardware and software-based products and services driving new technologies and business models to consumers,” Reed said. “ITP offers the necessary interdisciplinary mix of technology, economics, business and policy courses for students to succeed in this dynamic environment.”

Elaine Baskin and Ken Krechmer, residents of Palo Alto, Calif., created the new endowed chair in honor of Elaine’s father, an engineering student and saxophonist in the marching band at CU-Boulder in the late 1930s.

The first in his family to go to college, Jack Baskin went on to complete his studies in aeronautical engineering, which was not offered at CU-Boulder at the time, at New York University, and worked as an aeronautical engineer during World War II. After the war, he moved to Los Angeles where he became a builder and developer in Los Angeles and Northern California until his retirement.

Jack Baskin, who is 96, was “quite tickled by the idea” of the chair named in his honor, said Elaine Baskin. 

“My father is a very generous person. In the last 20 years, he has been our model for philanthropy to higher education,” she said. “We know CU is a university with a telecommunications program that would be open to and value the work on and teaching of standards.”

The couple has an extensive background in the telecommunications industry. For 13 years, they published Communications Standards Review, a technical journal that reported on telecommunications standards in the U.S. and internationally. Since the 1990s, Krechmer has been a scholar writing papers on standards as well as a guest lecturer with ITP, while Elaine Baskin now runs a small nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay area.

Julie Poppen, CU-Boulder media relations, (O) 303-492-4007, (M) 720-503-4922