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Dr. Birdsall Viault '54: Alumnus, Past Faculty Member, Ruth S. Harley Society Member

Dr. Birdsall Viault '54Dr. Birdsall Viault '54 decided to include Adelphi in his estate plans because he recognized what his gift meant to the University. "A relatively small bequest can make a big difference," he says.

You have been a loyal donor to Adelphi for more than 20 years. Why do you give to the University?
Because Adelphi has given so much to me. It opened so many opportunities, which led to so many things in my life. I have a commitment to this institution. I am a firm believer that a modest contribution can have a real impact. Along with the contributions of others, a smaller gift can make a big impression. I want to be a part of that.

What clubs or activities were you involved in at Adelphi?
Lots of different things. My freshman year I was manager of the varsity basketball team; that was a wonderful experience and it was something quite different from anything I had ever done before. I was on the staff of The Oracle for awhile; and I was an active member of the German Club, Die Bodenrunde, and of the History Club; and I also served on the Judicial Board. I was a member of Omega Delta Chi fraternity and served a term as treasurer. I was also a member of Flambeau and Delta Phi Alpha.

Who were your favorite professors?
I have very warm memories of history professors Chester Barrows and Robert Ernst, as well as of Grafton Nealley, who taught government. I was an education major and several of the professors in the department were very helpful to me, especially Agnes Snyder and Thomas Alexander. At Adelphi I participated in the University's New Teacher Education Program (ANTEP), which required a period of foreign study. Thanks to Dr. Alexander, I received a scholarship that enabled me to spend not only one, but two semesters studying at the University of Tuebingen in southern Germany. It was a wonderful experience, and I am still in contact with several close German friends from that time.

After receiving your bachelor's degree in education and your master's degree in history from Adelphi, you returned to your alma mater to teach.
I decided in high school that I wanted to be a social studies teacher. Then at Adelphi I realized it would be great to teach at the college level, and that is what I set out to do. I joined the faculty of Adelphi's history department in 1959, having completed everything but my dissertation for my Ph.D. in history from Duke University. I received my degree in 1963 and remained at Adelphi for five more years. I went on to spend the next 291/2 years at Winthrop University in South Carolina, retiring as professor emeritus in 1997.

Greatest professional accomplishment:
While my primary focus throughout my career was always on teaching, working in academia also allowed me to write scholarly articles and book reviews, which were published in journals in the United States and Europe. While teaching at Winthrop University, I had the opportunity to author four McGraw-Hill books, one of which is still in print after more than 20 years. I'm very proud of Modern European History, which high school students have discovered is useful in preparing for the European History AP exam. Reading reviews of my book written by students who found it to be a helpful resource has been most gratifying for me.

What message would you like to share with fellow Adelphi alumni?
Remember the experience you had at the University and the people there who touched your life and helped you in so many ways. Consider expressing some appreciation for that. Even making a modest gift is something important you can do for your alma mater. While $25, $50 or $100 might not seem like a tremendous amount of money, if 1,000 people gave that, we could make a significant difference at Adelphi.

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Let Us Know

  I have included Adelphi University in my estate plans.
  I intend to include Adelphi University in my estate plans.


A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Adelphi University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

Bequest Language

"I [Full legal name] give, devise, and bequeath [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] to Adelphi University of Garden City, New York. I direct that the proceeds of this bequest be allocated as per my instructions."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Adelphi or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support Adelphi's mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Adelphi as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Adelphi as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Adelphi where you agree to make a gift to Adelphi and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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