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The Pomona Plan: Investing for Retirement and in Pomona's Future

Dr. Stanley Gilbert professes that the origins of his generous donations to Pomona weren’t selfless so much as functional. Back in 1965, the doctor had a house in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora, was impatient about the process of showing it to potential buyers, and had heard about a small liberal-arts school not far from Los Angeles.

“Somebody told me you could give them a house, so I did,” he says matter-of-factly. “I got a tax deduction, and thought that would be that.”

Not so fast, doctor. Nearly a half-century later, Gilbert has evolved into an honorary Sagehen who can’t seem to fight the urge to return to Pomona every year and continue to put resources towards the school’s mission—whether that means funding a new social space, endowing a scholarship or simply having a quick chat
with President Oxtoby.

“Over the years, I’ve grown to love Pomona, and always look forward to coming back and reconnecting with the people there,” he says.

The Iowa native’s career in medicine has taken him to the far reaches of blue-collar Michigan, ritzy Beverly Hills and metropolitan Mexico. He earned a pre-med degree at Northwestern University and an M.D. at the University of Illinois before embarking on a topsy-turvy trajectory that included 20 years practicing medicine in Glendora, stints during World War II treating members of both the Army and the Marines, several years in Guadalajara learning Spanish, and a few jobs working at low-income government clinics in largely Latino towns in southern Texas.

“I wasn’t always the best at sitting still,” he says with a warm laugh. “I kept ’retiring’ and then finding another interesting opportunity in my lap.”

Since his (final) retirement in 1984, he has settled down in El Paso, Texas, where he splits his time between relaxing and traveling. He has also had the time to devote more of himself to philanthropy. When his first wife Violet passed away in 1999, he chose to use the annuities in her name to fund the living room in the Smith Campus Center. “It’s very gratifying to go on campus and meet all the faculty and students who have benefited,” he says.

Gilbert still makes annual visits to the school with his second wife Edna. They’ve formed a strong bond with Robin Trozpek in the Office of Trusts and Estates, scheduling regular dinners and even hosting her at their house in El Paso last year. He describes Trozpek’s kindness as indicative of the kind of community that
Pomona helps create.

“We view Robin as family to us,” he says. “From day one, she has made us, even as non-alums, feel like we’re truly part of the Pomona culture.”

Among the other ways in which Gilbert has contributed to the College is through the long-running Pomona Plan, in which donors who give cash, stocks or property to the school are awarded a lifelong fixed income in return. “It’s a sound thing to do for your retirement,” he says. “I don’t have to worry about Edna if I die because I know that she will be taken care of financially.”

Last year the couple also set up the Dr. Stanley Z. and Mrs. Edna Y. Gilbert Scholarship Fund with an outright gift of $100,000. The first recipient, Eric Rios ’13, is a math and science double major and residence hall sponsor who plans to pursue graduate study in mechanical engineering. He’s from inner-city Chicago—his dad
installs marble countertops, while his mom works at a local McDonald’s – and is the first person in his family to attend college.

“I don’t know what would have happened for me if I hadn’t gotten a scholarship,” says Rios. “It’s things like this that help create a more diverse student body at Pomona.”

For Gilbert, hearing about success stories like Rios’ is exactly what makes his efforts feel worthwhile.

“It’s important that the College provide opportunities for people who would not otherwise have the funds to go.

“At the end of the day,” he says, “it really comes back to the students.”

The Pomona Plan

  • Established in the 1940s
  • Pioneered by Allen F. Hawley ’16
  • Gifts: annuities, charitable remainder trusts, pooled income funds, retained life estates
  • More than 400 beneficiaries
  • More than $125 million in assets under management
  • AAA bond ratings from Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s

More information is available at