A Lifetime of Northwestern Experiences Inspires Engineering Support
In 1963, Jan Achenbach first moved to Evanston with his new wife, Marcia, after being hired as an assistant professor by the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University. The couple was attracted to Northwestern's work in solid mechanics as well as its proximity to Chicago and its cultural offerings. More than 50 years later, Jan is an emeritus professor and one of the University's most celebrated faculty members. Marcia remains a proud alumna. Inspired by the "lifetime of experiences" they have had at Northwestern, the Achenbachs have made a commitment to support the future of their beloved University through their estate plans.
Both Marcia and Jan were born abroad. Marcia spent her early years in the Philippines, later attending boarding schools in Australia, Switzerland, and the United States. A native of the Netherlands, Jan came to Stanford University to study aeronautical engineering shortly after the Sputnik launch, eager to take part in the research that would fuel the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. While at Stanford, Jan met Marcia, a history student; the pair married during Marcia's junior year.
When Jan was offered a position at Northwestern, Marcia took advantage of the opportunity to enroll in a master's degree program in English literature. After graduating and teaching for several years, she acquired a master's degree in social work from the University of Chicago and embarked on a career as a clinical social worker, serving children and families in the Chicago area.
Meanwhile, Jan thrived at Northwestern, quickly becoming a leader in the field of ultrasonics. His research focused on using ultrasound technology to detect cracks and corrosion in safety-critical structures such as aircraft, bridges, and nuclear reactors. In 2003 and 2005, Jan was invited to the White House to receive the nation's highest awards in technology and science, respectively: the National Medal of Technology and the National Medal of Science. Jan was among the first Northwestern recipients of these awards and one of only a small group of scientists who have received both honors.
As a professor, Jan developed deep bonds with both undergraduate and graduate students, serving as a mentor to young engineers and researchers for years beyond graduation. In 2012, his former students honored him by establishing the Jan D. Achenbach Lecture Fund, which brings renowned scientists and engineers to campus to speak on cutting-edge topics.
Today, Jan and Marcia remain active within the Northwestern community. "We have spent most of our lives at Northwestern and have always been happy here," says Jan, who continues his work with Northwestern today. Jan and Marcia also recently began taking continuing education courses at the University.
This lifelong connection is what inspired the Achenbachs to provide for Northwestern's future through planned giving. In addition to including a generous bequest in their estate plans, the couple has established several charitable gift annuities (CGAs) with the University. These popular giving vehicles allow individuals and couples to make tax-deductible gifts of cash or appreciated assets to Northwestern, and in return, receive income payments for life. "Charitable gift annuities offer big advantages to the giver," says Jan, adding that the couple decided on this type of gift after learning about the tax and income benefits it would provide during their lifetimes.
Most importantly, the Achenbachs were able to designate their planned gifts to fund engineering professorships. Their gifts will further Jan's legacy of teaching and research excellence at Northwestern Engineering.
"Northwestern has given us lifelong education, culture, music, travel, and other benefits," says Marcia, reflecting on why she and her husband have chosen to give back to the University. The Achenbachs' generosity and commitment to Northwestern will help bring these same benefits to future generations of students and faculty.
To learn more about charitable gift annuities and your personal payment rates and benefits, contact Northwestern Gift Planning at 800-826-6709 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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