Environment school nets $2 million

A father-son pair of executives at General Cigar Co., Inc. — Edgar Cullman, Sr. ’40 and Edgar Cullman, Jr. ’68 — have donated $2 million to the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The money is earmarked to support teaching in Yale College and the environmental studies major, Cullman, Jr. said. The bulk of the donation has been transferred to the University, and environment school officials said the rest is expected to arrive shortly. The money will be set aside in an endowment fund, where interest will generate revenue perpetually.

“This is a gift that would provide us with some long-term support to continue to reposition the school as an integral part of Yale College,” Environment School Dean Gustave Speth said.

He added that the gift will enable the school to achieve one of its extant goals — strengthening its ties with Yale College — by extending courses to undergraduates.

The environment school has already restructured the undergraduate major in environmental studies and one third of the courses in the major are taught by environment school faculty, Speth said.

The school has also extended the opportunity for Yale undergraduates to earn a master’s degree by taking certain courses as undergraduates and attending the environment school a year after graduating.

Speth said he sees the influence of the environment school on Yale College as essential.

“It’s extraordinarily important that everyone have a profound understanding of environmental issues and concerns,” he said.

Applying that maxim to his career, Cullman, Jr. said he thinks businesses must exercise responsible stewardship of the environment.

A senior executive at General Cigar, Cullman, Jr. said he asked the environment school to emphasize the ways environmentalists can work with businesses and governments in non-adversarial ways.

“During the ’70s and ’80s, the way to get the attention of [businesses] was to have confrontations that sometimes were quite violent,” he said.

The donation is just one of the many Cullman family contributions to the school. The Cullmans have been involved with environmental issues and the environment school for several years. Cullman, Sr. and his brother established a scholarship in their father’s honor, while Cullman, Jr.’s daughter — Georgina Cullman ’02 — was a biology major at Yale. Cullman, Jr. said in light of his family’s interests, his donation was a personal one.

“It’s personal. It’s not coming from the company. There are no strings attached to it as relates to the tobacco industry,” Cullman, Jr. said. “Over the years, responsible businesses have learned it’s good to be sensitive to the environment.”

Gustave Speth, dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, welcomed a new $2 million donation to promote ties with Yale College.
Jamie Yoo
Gustave Speth, dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, welcomed a new $2 million donation to promote ties with Yale College.

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