Feeling Close to Haverford
Bob Kriel '59 and Linda Krach
Bob Kriel, a first-generation college student, arrived at Haverford with the goal of becoming a physician although he had, in his words, "no understanding of what being a physician really meant." The son of a butcher from Baltimore, he imagined that being a physician would be the "end all." His experiences at Haverford set a trajectory for professional success and lifelong learning. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Haverford, Bob earned a degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and became a pediatric neurologist. Somewhat to his surprise, he went into academic medicine and was appointed professor in neurology, pediatrics, and pharmacy at the University of Minnesota. He continues to conduct research and has authored more than 100 publications.
Among Bob's collaborators is his wife, Linda Krach, a physician-researcher specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Linda was also a first-generation student at Wilson College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and now serves on its board of trustees. Bob's years at Haverford corresponded to an exciting time in the biological sciences, with many major discoveries and advances. This excitement was conveyed by the biology faculty members Ariel Loewy, Irv Finger, and Mel Santer. Bob remembers Ariel as a kind and gifted teacher and personally supportive, instilling not only knowledge of science, but also the philosophy and methodology of scientific research. He encouraged students to collaborate with him on research and to continue it in their future careers. Bob recognizes his impact: "Dr. Loewy gave me the courage and ability to pursue and publish research." Bob credits Haverford with instilling the confidence and skills to succeed, noting that his first two publications came from research he conducted in the laboratory of Professor Loewy. Close contact with professors, Bob found, was "enormously enabling."
Linda notes another distinctive quality of Haverford. "At Bob's reunions, I always have been impressed by how the men gather and talk about their lives and share in a way that is so unusual. Perhaps this is in part due to the Honor Code, but it also seems due to the uniqueness of the place and the support that they received from one another and the institution as young men."
"While I was very receptive to doing more for Haverford, it was very important that I could do so within my means."
Bob describes 2019 as an "exceptional" year in his relationship with Haverford. The couple hosted Associate Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies Jonathan Wilson for a Haverford event in Minneapolis. Another highlight was Bob's 60th reunion which was organized by the class leader Frank Lyman. Also in 2019 was the trip that he and Linda took to the Arctic with Haverford alumni. Among the special features of that trip were presentations by Helen White, associate professor of chemistry and environmental studies and director of the Koshland Integrated Science Center. The journey to the Arctic was also memorable for its "phenomenal" lectures and spectacular scenery.
Soon after the excursion to the Arctic, Bob decided to establish the Ariel G. Loewy Fund in Environmental Studies to support student and faculty engagement in field research associated with environmental studies. While Bob had long ago made a provision for Haverford in his will, his interest in environmental issues led him to think about enhancing and directing his support. "While I was very receptive to doing more for Haverford, it was important that I could do so within my means and that my support would help students and be linked to research. While there are many crises facing our culture and world health, the most fundamental is environmental collapse. Being able to help Haverford address this urgent societal issue clinched it."
Because Bob already has a trust, making his gift involved only minor revisions to the trust document. That Bob could begin to seed the Ariel G. Loewy Fund in Environmental Studies during his and Linda's lifetimes—and see the impact of their philanthropy on students collaborating closely with professors—was not only achievable, but highly meaningful. "I feel as close to Haverford as I ever have," says Bob. Living in the Twin Cities, Bob and Linda appreciate the lasting impact of the liberal arts on developing interests that are "so different from what we do professionally." They enjoy the rich cultural life of the area, especially music, and both serve on an advisory board for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Linda and Bob head for "the lake" on summer weekends where they nurture their passion as birders. Bob volunteers at Habitat for Humanity and the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, where he enjoys teaching students and visitors and participates in the care of injured raptors. "Learning and developing after college are key takeaways of the liberal arts experience," Bob concludes.