Special Campus Memo: Alumnus to Create Endowed Chair

March 15, 2019

Alumnus to create Grinnell biology endowed chair in honor of father, former professor

Denver-area cardiologist and farmer Carlos Mendoza '72 will create the Dr. Guillermo Mendoza Endowed Chair in the biology department with a planned gift of $4.25 million.

The gift will provide support for Grinnell's commitment to interdisciplinary connections between humanities, social sciences and STEM fields, and will be awarded to a faculty member who has demonstrated expertise, excellence in teaching, and dedication to the advising and mentoring of students.

Carlos is creating the position in honor of his father, Guillermo Mendoza. Guillermo served as a biology professor and pre-med adviser at Grinnell for 34 years, helping to shape the lives of countless students - including Carlos and his older brother, Guillermo R. Mendoza '68 - who went on to careers in the science and medical fields.

After graduating from medical school, Carlos enlisted in the Army and served for three years as a staff cardiologist. He then worked in private practice for 30 years. In 2012, he retired from medicine to his 200-acre farm north of Denver where he remained busy with successful hay and llama-breeding businesses.

Carlos made his gift to Grinnell by contributing his farm to a charitable remainder unitrust, which provides him immediate tax benefits, as well as lifetime retirement income following the farm's sale. The remainder value of the trust will eventually establish the Dr. Guillermo Mendoza Endowed Chair.

"We are very grateful that Carlos has chosen to make a lasting impact on Grinnell's biology program," says Grinnell College Dean Mike Latham. "This real estate gift is a creative and generous way of giving. The establishment of the trust is a win for all parties, and it's such a fitting tribute for Carlos' father."

Guillermo Mendoza was a zoologist specializing in the study of a variety of fresh-water fish unique to Central Mexico. His long academic career included research and teaching in biology, comparative anatomy, embryology, genetics, histology, and electron microscopy. He published numerous research papers, held offices in numerous professional societies, and served as chairman of the department of biology and the division of natural sciences at Grinnell College. He held the position of Stone Professor of Biology from 1961 until his retirement in 1977.

"We lived on the edge of campus," Carlos says about his time growing up in Grinnell. "We talked about the College at the family dinner table and attended Grinnell functions. Because the College was a huge part of my life as a kid and a young adult, the decision to give to Grinnell is a gratifying way to pay back and acknowledge the pivotal role the College played in our lives as a family."

Ben DeRidder, chair of Grinnell's biology department, says Mendoza's generous gift will "allow us to continue and expand our innovative, inquiry-based approach to teaching biology. The integration of authentic research at every level of our curriculum requires a significant level of commitment - of faculty and staff, but also of fiscal resources - to maintain our program, facilities, and instrumentation at levels that are consistent with the goal of providing our students the very best life-sciences education."

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