For decades, Leonard Klehr ’72 and Susan Kline Klehr ’73 have supported students at their alma mater through their volunteer service and generous philanthropy. Recently, they increased their already considerable financial support with a $1 million gift for financial aid.
Leadership contributors to the Klehr Center for Jewish Life and drivers of fundraising for the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House, the Klehrs have focused their efforts on creating resources that have growing impact over many years. They established the Klehr Family Endowed Scholarship in 2002. Their latest gift augments the Klehr Scholarship significantly, and like much of their support, this contribution will have meaning in the near and long terms. It offers great opportunities for study and growth to F&M students now—and will materially change many individual lives over coming decades. More broadly, it serves as a symbol of the Klehrs’ gratitude for and belief in F&M’s model of liberal arts education.
“I was fortunate enough to attend F&M on a full scholarship, as did my older brother,” Lenny said. “That was the only way we could have received a private-college education. My parents were working-class immigrants and could not afford the cost. I benefited from someone else’s generosity and it’s very rewarding for me that we can give that opportunity to future students of the College. It’s also true that Franklin & Marshall has a long history of producing tremendous graduates—people who make a difference in their professions and communities. Our gift is not just for students’ benefit, but also for everyone those students affect and influence over decades.”
“We truly believe in F&M’s cause, so it’s more than a gift to us,” Susan added. “We know from personal experience that financial aid works. The College has set up such a great support system for students. Under President Porterfield’s leadership, there is a network of high schools and guidance organizations that direct talented, but underserved students to Franklin & Marshall. When they get here, they benefit from a comprehensive advisory system—their academic advisers, the dons and deans in the College Houses, professionals measuring and improving academic outcomes, the staff in the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development, in addition to outstanding and committed faculty. In my service on the Board of Trustees, I get to see the excellent results. This gift makes that kind of access and support available for more students.”
“Susan and Lenny Klehr have done so much for Franklin & Marshall,” College President Daniel R. Porterfield said. “Our community is stronger because of this dedicated alumni couple’s support, expressed through their time, knowledge, energy and philanthropy. This latest gift by the Klehrs bolsters F&M’s mission to recruit, support, educate and launch into success bright, high-achieving students from all backgrounds. It will create opportunities for many students for generations to come and it deepens the Klehrs’ legacy at the College.”
Susan noted that belief in the power and value of an F&M education was one reason she and Lenny originally established the scholarship. “There are young people out there who deserve a better chance than they’re getting,” she said. “We have met many successful F&M students who originally wouldn’t have considered a private liberal arts college. Our conversations helped us realize that access is only the beginning of that path to achieving success; the support systems have to be in place to help these students in that process.”
Indeed, the Klehrs’ philanthropy has often centered on forming not only those support systems, but also a community that embodies them. Their efforts to build the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House and the Klehr Center for Jewish Life resulted in the creation of places that transcend the traditional college experience.
The Klehr Center serves a key role in strengthening Jewish life on campus and in increasing all students’ appreciation of Judaism. Susan said, “Many students who aren’t Jewish come to the Klehr Center for dinners or book discussions or just hanging out,” she said. “It’s a warm, welcoming space…It’s something that makes the College a special place.”
Susan, who holds several volunteer leadership positions with Philadelphia nonprofits, is a member of the first class of female graduates at F&M and majored in art and art history. She is in her 20th year on F&M’s Board of Trustees, where she is a vice chair. She has served on the Council for Women and earned the College’s Alumni Award last year. For the last 10 years, Lenny, a government major, has been vice chairman of the real estate investment firm, Lubert-Adler. Prior to that, he was the founding partner of the Philadelphia law firm, Klehr, Harrison, Harvey, Branzburg. Lenny was the first chair of the College’s Leadership Council and serves on the Klehr Center for Jewish Life Board of Directors.
The Klehrs, parents of three sons, including Samuel ’12, met while F&M students. Susan recalls their first date seeing Dustin Hoffman in the movie, “Little Big Man.” Both described their College experience as providing a “better sense of self.”
“I engaged with new ideas and met people with different backgrounds from across the country and around the world,” Lenny said. “I never even flew on an airplane until I was 19, but by the time I graduated, my world view had expanded tremendously.”
Susan described herself as “very shy” when she came to F&M. “I learned a lot about myself here. My education showed me what was possible, what my capabilities were. I continue using that education to inform my point of view, even today.”