Photo: Charles Quigg '09
H. Axel Schupf '57
Doctor of Humane Letters
H. Axel Schupf ’57 has said that his four years at Amherst were a transforming experience. He has returned the favor, by lending his extraordinary business acumen and personal commitment to five decades of service to the College.
Born in Antwerp, the son of wartime immigrants, Schupf came to Amherst from New Rochelle, N.Y. At the College, he found a world of students full of ideas and wide experience—a Quaker roommate, an African-American fraternity brother, a member of New York’s hereditary elite. Among all of them he found intellectual curiosity and energy, fuelled by the rigorous set of common courses known as the New Curriculum.
After completing his M.B.A. at Harvard Business School, he went on to begin a successful career in finance. In the late ’70s, Schupf served as New York City’s health services administrator. In 1979, he founded a money management firm, H.A. Schupf & Co., which was acquired last year by Lehman Brothers. Schupf continues to work there.
Two of his daughters, Elisabeth Lonsdale ’81, and Katherine Kim ’87, are Amherst graduates. A devoted son to his parents, Cecelia and Willem Schupf, he has endowed a professorship his father’s name. Committed to family, he and his wife, Sara, also have turned their considerable energies to philanthropy. Dedicated to many Jewish causes, Schupf is a founder and former chairman of New York’s Jewish Museum. But Amherst, as he has put it, is his first love.
One of the most generous benefactors in the history of Amherst College, Schupf has endowed the Willem Schupf Professorship in Asian Languages and Civilizations and is the single largest underwriter of the Faculty Research and Awards Program. He has fortified the College’s commitment to academic excellence by creating the Schupf Scholars Program. He has given indefatigably of his time and expertise as a trustee, class volunteer and member of the Associates of Fine Arts. With Chuck Lewis ’64, he co-chaired The Amherst College Campaign, which raised $270 million (against a $200-million goal) for the College’s most important priorities between 1996 and 2001.
In recognition of his decades of “giving back,” the College awarded Schupf the Medal for Eminent Service in 1992 and, more recently, named him a life trustee.