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What Rensselaer Meant to His Life: Donor Ensures That Other Students Will Have Same Opportunities

Frank Hicks

Growing up with an interest in crystal sets and other electrical devices, Dr. H. Frank Hicks Jr. attended Rensselaer to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

Frank was impressed with the range of engineering programs available to him and he had a deep respect for many of the professors at Rensselaer. A member of Pi Kappa Alpha and several clubs on campus, Frank made many friends at Rensselaer, some of whom he still keeps in touch with today.

Frank was a student at Rensselaer and volunteered to serve with the US Army Signal Corps Reserve 10 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He completed his degree in electrical engineering on an accelerated schedule and served on active duty for 32 months. He returned to Rensselaer after the war to earn his M.S. in electrical engineering in 1947 and his Ph.D. in applied physics in 1951.

Frank recalls how helpful Rensselaer was in making the transition from Army to civilian life by providing housing and teaching assignments to veterans.

Frank then went on to enjoy a long career in research and engineering at Eastman Kodak Company where he and his co-workers designed, developed, manufactured and operated the photographic sub-system of the Gambit Reconnaissance Satellite. Frank was married for nearly 55 years to his high school sweetheart, Joanne (who has since passed away). Joanne and Frank raised three children and have six grandchildren.

Extending the Values He Lives By
Although it's been a while since he's returned to Rensselaer, Frank keeps up with the latest news on campus.

"Rensselaer has remained in the forefront of such schools," he says. It has also remained at the forefront of his and his wife's charitable intentions. In addition to their contributions to the school's annual fund, the couple established a charitable remainder trust with Rensselaer.

Frank says a charitable remainder trust was appealing because they could make gifts to Rensselaer while retaining the security of additional income during their lifetimes.

"I got a good education that resulted in an interesting and challenging career, and RPI was at the base of it," Frank says.

Now the couple's gifts will help other promising students build the same foundation for life through Rensselaer.

Leaving Your Legacy
Stephen Van Rensselaer founded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1824 for the purpose of applying science to the common purposes of life. We invite you to become a legacy partner with us in fulfilling this grand vision. For more information, please contact Art Tracy at or (518) 276-2561, or visit planned gift.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 110 8th St., Troy, NY 12180-3590, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Rensselaer or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Rensselaer as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Rensselaer as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Rensselaer where you agree to make a gift to Rensselaer and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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