Marsh Greenberg: "Haverford Chose Me...I Went to the Best Place for Me"
How Marshall Greenberg '56 ended up attending Haverford College is something of a happy accident. Growing up in a small town in New Jersey, Marsh had never even heard of Haverford until it became the first choice college for his close friend Perkins Pedrick '58. Though he teased Perk that Haverford would have him coming home from the Quaker school "with a three-cornered hat and high-buckled shoes," Marsh decided to apply as well. Nevertheless, Princeton remained his first choice.
But in a twist of fate, when acceptances and scholarship offers came out, Marsh decided to go to Haverford and Perk enrolled at Princeton—though not for long. "I'd been on campus for a week and was walking by Roberts Hall," Marsh recalls. "I saw this gray Studebaker with Jersey plates and thought, ‘That's strange. That's Perk's family's car.' Suddenly he emerged from Roberts with his father and announced that he had just enrolled at Haverford." One week of Princeton was enough for him. "I would have hated it there also," admits Marsh. "So Haverford chose me. And knowing what I know now, there's no question in my mind that I went to the best place for me."
Today, Marsh and his wife, Addy Sugarman-Greenberg, live in the Philadelphia suburb of Elkins Park and enjoy the proximity to Haverford's campus. One event they find especially rewarding is the celebration that brings together scholarship donors and recipients.
After Marsh retired from Booz Allen Hamilton, where he had been President of National Analysts, their marketing research and consulting division, his colleagues at NA decided in 1999 to create an educational scholarship—the Marshall G. Greenberg '56 Fund—in his honor. Marsh asked that it be established at Haverford, where he had been a recipient of significant financial aid himself, and he matched the gifts made to the fund over a period of five years. This became the inspiration for the Greenberg Family Scholarship Fund, created in 2011, which supports students in the social sciences with a strong emphasis on quantitative methods.
Marsh's own academic experience was deeply rooted in mathematics, his intended major. During his junior year he became enamored with psychological research and established a joint major in psychology and mathematics. By his senior year he had completed the course requirements for his joint major, exceeded the requirements for a psych major and been accepted into the doctoral program at the University of Michigan, where he would go on to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematical Psychology. There was only one problem. "At some point late in my senior year I realized I would be required to take comprehensive exams in math, as well as psych, and I was in no position to do so!" With the support of both the Psychology and Mathematics Departments, he shared his dilemma with Dean Bill Cadbury and asked for permission to change his major to Psychology and not take any comps in Mathematics. "Well, Greenberg, it's a little late to be changing your major," the dean told him, but he did agree to it. Marsh was grateful for the understanding and flexibility. "That's what's so wonderful about Haverford," he remarks. "There was really no reason not to allow it, but at most schools a student wouldn't even dare to make such a request."
"You've also said how important the Honor Code was for you," Addy chimes in enthusiastically. Addy, a graduate of Smith College, has embraced Marsh's love for his own alma mater. "He has such strong feelings about Haverford's positive impact on him," she says.
"I liked the idea when I read about the Honor Code in the catalog and talked about it during my interviews," Marsh elaborates, "but I didn't fully appreciate it until the orientation on the first day. We had these great late-night discussions about its implications for both our academic and social behavior. I was really amazed at how well the Code worked and appreciated the trust invested in us and the feeling of responsibility that it engendered. To me that was wonderful."
Thirty years later, Marsh's son, David, followed in his footsteps, graduating from Haverford in 1986. "I appreciated Haverford even more after accompanying David on a tour of the other small liberal arts colleges in the Northeast when he was a senior in high school," Marsh recalls. "I felt that, while some had comparable academic credentials, they lacked the strong sense of community values that guide Haverford students in exercising the freedom and responsibility offered by the culture at the College."
As a result of his strong, positive feelings for Haverford, Marsh decided to include the College in his estate plans. He opted to make it the beneficiary of one of his Individual Retirement Accounts—accomplished simply by updating the beneficiary designation form with the company managing the account. And, having seen the impact of the Marshall G. Greenberg '56 Fund, he realized that designating the IRA gift to support a new endowed scholarship would have an impact not only by fully endowing the fund, but also by creating a legacy for both his family and for the student recipients.
Thus, with the knowledge, enthusiasm and blessing of his family, Marsh established the Greenberg Family Scholarship Fund. Then he took it a step further.
"Olga Briker in the Gift Planning Office at Haverford suggested that it might be a good idea to contribute some or all of that IRA gift now," Marsh remembered, "so that I could enjoy watching it make a difference during my lifetime. It really made sense."
In addition to his scholarship gifts, Marsh has been a longtime Annual Fund donor and member of The 1833 Society. "I think it's important to make sure the College is able to do the things like preserve need-blind admission," he says. "My family had very little money, and I could not have afforded to attend without a scholarship."
"I feel a great debt to the College," Marsh continues. "Haverford, for me, was an intellectual and social awakening, a critical transition period for me to adulthood. I spent four of the most significant years of my life there."