Philanthropy Friday: Cynthia and Robert Hart ’79 Giving Back to WPI
Bob Hart understands the value of giving back to his alma mater and has been generous with his time, talent, and treasure. He has served WPI as a member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Advisory Board and is a current member of the Board of Trustees. Recently, Bob and his wife, Cynthia, made a $2 million commitment to WPI. The majority of their generous gift is unrestricted, allowing WPI to direct the funds to the university’s highest priorities and areas of impact; a smaller portion supports facilities.
Bob is CEO and president of TruAmerica Multifamily, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm he founded in 2013 with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. He chairs the firm’s Investment Committee to skillfully select value-add assets for acquisition, repositioning, and eventual disposition to deliver outstanding risk-adjusted returns for the company and its institutional partners.
Under Bob’s leadership, TruAmerica has grown to become one of the largest and most active apartment investors in the United States, managing an $8.7 billion portfolio of approximately 40,000 units across prime locations throughout 10 states. His transaction experience and multifamily industry expertise is unparalleled. Throughout a career that spans more than three decades, he has overseen the acquisition and disposition of more than $12 billion in assets within the United States and Japan. He is also involved in leading many industry groups as well as the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where he earned his MBA.
For several years, he also served as chair of the board of Chrysalis, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a pathway for homeless and low-income individuals to find and retain employment in Los Angeles. He continues to serve on its board. Each year, Chrysalis helps thousands of individuals find employment through its four centers in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Through employment, Chrysalis also helps people transition from homelessness or transient living to permanent housing. In recognition for his work with Chrysalis, he received the Humanitarian Leadership Award from the WPI Alumni Association at his 30th Reunion celebration in 2009.
Bob and Cynthia are members of the Alden Society, which recognizes those who have included WPI in their estate planning through a will or trust, IRA or other retirement plan, life income or other planned gift; and those who have created an endowed named fund at WPI through any type of philanthropy. The Harts’s latest gift—a blend of a planned and outright gifts—demonstrates support for WPI’s next major fundraising endeavor.
A brief conversation with Bob and Cynthia Hart
What motivates you to give to WPI?
We are enthusiastic supporters of higher education. The United States is a global leader in science, engineering, and technology. We need our best students in engineering and sciences, of which WPI is a leader, to prosper and stay at the cutting edge. We believe in WPI, STEM education, and the school’s unique mission to cultivate some of the best and brightest minds in our country that will advance our future and quality of life in a humanistic way.
What do you hope your gift will achieve for future generations at WPI?
Our hope is straightforward—to make WPI an even stronger institution than it is today and provide its students––especially women, underrepresented students, and those who come from underprivileged families––with equal opportunities to attend the university and prosper.
What do you enjoy about coming back to campus?
I enjoy the simple nostalgia of being there when I attend events and trustee meetings. Although the school has grown quite a bit since I graduated 40 years ago, the intimate feeling of being on the Hill and being part of the mix and seeing WPI students heading off to class and athletics with purpose is a great feeling of belonging and knowing one can play even a small part in the future of this great institution.
What would you say to other alumni and friends to encourage them to stay connected—and to give back?
Giving to WPI is so easy. The school has given so much to me and others like me. Having come from a working-class Bostonian family and being the first to go to college, I know what it means to work hard and to strive for a better future. What better way to show thanks than by supporting WPI at whatever level you’re comfortable with. It’s such a great feeling that will create everlasting benefits.
– By Judith Jaeger