Christopher Eagan’s faith in education leads to $30K gift to Miramontes program
To Christopher Eagan, growing up in Levittown, N.Y., America’s first and most famous suburb, was nirvana.
In Levittown, which was developed to provide homes for returning World War II veterans and their families, “everybody was the same age, the parents were all the same age. Everybody was young, everything was new, and there were throngs of kids,” says Eagan, 66.
But after 18 years there, Eagan was ready for a change, and he knew just where he wanted to go: the University of Colorado Boulder.
“I loved skiing as a kid, and we took two trips out West. I loved it,” he says. “My freshman year I logged more than 50 days skiing.”
Somewhere in that time he did a little studying, too, graduating with a degree in geology in 1973. He later went on to earn a law degree from Fordham University, and most recently stepped down as partner in the global law firm Bryan Cave LLC, where he specialized in banking.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was at CU, but that was common then. It was much more about getting a solid arts-and-sciences education,” Eagan says. “The assumption was I would be getting a job. I had no idea what it would be, or where, but there was never a fear that I wouldn’t get a job.”Eagan’s roots in Levittown and his lifelong belief in the importance of a well-rounded education recently inspired him to make a gift to CU Boulder’s Miramontes Arts and Sciences Program, which supports “motivated, traditionally underrepresented or first generation students who want to be part of a diverse academic community in the College of Arts & Sciences.”
MASP, as it’s known, provides community, space and awareness of academic opportunities through a summer program for incoming freshmen, and requires coursework of its participants.
“We have a pretty diverse set of scholars from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, many of them first-generation college students,” says MASP director Celeste Montoya. “This is a very competitive program and these are bright, high-achieving, talented students.”
The Eagan Family Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide a $1,000 scholarship to a MASP student and $5,000 toward an endowment over five years.
Eagan wasn’t aware of MASP when he contacted the Office of Advancement about making a gift. But he strongly believes that institutions know best where support can have a maximum impact.
“I try to be realistic. I reach out and say, ‘You tell me what’s important.’”
When Eagan learned about MASP, he thought it was a perfect fit. So many of the kids he grew up with in Levittown would become their families’ first college graduates, and he believes in the value of mentorship.
“My father was a great believer in education and I’m a great believer. From a post-World War II perspective, education is what transformed this country, increased income throughout this country, and made us a leader in the world,” he says.
“MASP really fits in with my conception of education as the great leveler—it both evens the playing field and expands opportunities. The concept of mentorship, that you’ve got someone to go to, to help you find your way, is important. It opens a door, reaches out a hand and says, ‘Come on in, it’s cold outside. Come on in.’”
As fondly as he looks back on the kids’ nirvana that was Levittown, Eagan credits CU Boulder for not only expanding his mind, but exposing him to a far greater diversity of people than he’d ever seen in his first 18 years. He’s pleased to support a program like MASP, which continues that tradition in even more depth.
“What CU is able to do, partly because of the beauty of its location, is attract people from around the country and around the world, so when you go there you are exposed to so many different cultures,” he says. “That’s a really terrific story about the school that was important to me and remains important to students.”