Donald Cecil (1927-2020)
Donald Cecil, Emeritus Trustee and former Chair of the Investment Committee of the Purchase College Foundation, passed away at home on Friday, April 10, 2020, at the age of 93.
A longstanding and dedicated supporter of Purchase College, Donald donated his time and counsel to manage the Foundation’s investment portfolios during many years of growth. During his decades of service, he also served as Chair of the Friends of the Neuberger Board and Vice Chair of the Purchase College Foundation Board.
Don attended Horace Mann School and was a graduate and active alumnus of Yale University, which he attended as part of the Navy V-12 program. He spent a decade working with his father and uncle in the family’s restaurant supply business, Cecilware, and then moved to Wall Street as a research analyst, working at several firms. He was Director of Institutional Research at Shearson Hammill before co-founding Cumberland Associates—an early hedge fund with more than $1 billion in assets under management—with his colleague Walter Mintz in 1970. While continuing as an investor and advisor, he stepped back from Cumberland in 1982, largely devoting himself to philanthropy, particularly in education and the arts.
Don and his wife of 62 years, Jane, were passionate partners in the Westchester community for more than four decades, working to bring educational and cultural opportunities to underserved young people. In so doing, they became an extraordinary force in improving the quality of life for families throughout the New York metropolitan region. Among their many philanthropic contributions, the Cecils started the Jandon Scholars program in 1999 which has provided 20 years of funding for almost 300 low-income, high-achieving students in Westchester County to attend college.
Their Jandon Foundation has tirelessly supported Purchase College by establishing several initiatives including the Jandon Scholarship in Acting, the Jandon Writing Through the Arts program at the Neuberger Museum of Art, and the Adopt-a-Dancer program.
Established in 2012 through a generous gift from the Jandon Foundation to mark the occasion of Donald Cecil’s 85th birthday, the Jandon Business of the Arts Distinguished Lecture Fund has brought leaders in the arts to speak at Purchase College and help students in the Arts Management program and arts conservatories to develop relationships with accomplished professionals in the arts. The fund also recognizes student achievement and leadership in the Arts Management Program through a senior award each spring. This endowed lecture reflects Don and Jane’s lifelong commitment to excellence in education, leadership in business, and passion for the arts. In fall 2019, Don provided financial support to the Jandon Faculty Fund at Purchase College in honor of President Emeritus Thomas J. Schwarz.
A friend and mentor to many in the financial industry and in the non-profit world, Don also served as Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Transportation, Treasurer of the Center for Educational Innovation, and a member of the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
He was honored by numerous organizations, including the Center for Education Innovation, the Yale Westchester Alumni Association, and the Neuberger Museum of Art; he received the Purchase College Leaders in Philanthropy Award in 2016.
Don loved his family, his friends, the arts, tennis, and traveling the world with Jane and family. He supported and inspired many people from all walks of life to reach high and to assist others in doing the same.
Purchase College is immensely grateful to Don for his deep commitment to the college, and his generous leadership in advancing the arts, our students, and our faculty. His wisdom, advice, and counsel were invaluable and he will be forever remembered for his dedication to the Purchase community.