November 8, 2016

Trustee Gives to Enhance the Student Experience at Caltech

Throughout her career as a Wall Street executive, Caltech trustee Deborah McWhinney has helped foster excellence in others by serving as a mentor and an advocate for leadership development. With her $1 million gift to support students at Caltech, McWhinney is once again focused on helping tomorrow’s leaders.

Her commitment will establish the Deborah Doyle McWhinney Student Experience Fund, which will help sustain existing programs and launch new initiatives that benefit undergraduate and graduate students both in and beyond the classroom. One of McWhinney’s goals for the endowed fund is to enhance Caltech’s ability to connect students—including those who seek careers outside of academia—with mentors and internships. Bolstering Caltech’s commitment to students through fellowships, scholarships, and programs that enrich student life is a major priority of Break Through: The Caltech Campaign, a $2 billion fundraising effort to secure Caltech’s future that launched in April 2016.

“What motivated me to make this gift is the students themselves. They are worth any amount of investment.”
- Deborah McWhinney

McWhinney believes that rich and varied experiences outside of the classroom often help students build skills—such as leadership and communication—that are valued by employers. And she knows that Caltech needs flexible funds to act swiftly in creating those important opportunities.

“This is a marvelous gift and the flexibility of this fund will enable supporting students in new and imaginative ways,” says Joe Shepherd (PhD ’81), vice president for student affairs and the C. L. “Kelly” Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. “This is exactly the sort of support we need to continue to build a strong and vibrant student experience that complements our extraordinary academic environment.”

A trustee since 2007, McWhinney decided to establish her student fund in 2015, soon after she co-hosted a dinner with Tom Mannion, senior director of student activities and programs. Her already high estimation of Caltech students grew at that event, where she conversed late into the night with 28 Caltech students who expressed interest in business and finance careers.

“They just had that light in their eyes,” says McWhinney, whose protégés include Goldman Sachs sales analyst Grace Leishman (BS ’16). “I would have hired most of them on the spot.”

A graduate of the University of Montana, McWhinney is the retired chief executive officer for global enterprise payments at Citigroup. She also headed Citi Personal Banking and Wealth Management and was the global co-chair of Citi Women, an initiative that helps female employees advance in their careers. McWhinney held additional executive positions at Schwab Institutional, Visa International, and Bank of America. She serves on the boards of Fluor Corporation, the Institute of Defense Analyses, and IHS Markit as well as Fresenius Medical Care and Lloyds Banking Group. She was named to American Banker’s list of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking from 2010 to 2013.