His gift is nothing short of transformational. “Austin Marxe has propelled forward the ambitions of an entire school of thousands of students for generations to come,” says Dr. David S. Birdsell, longtime dean of the newly named Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs “Through those students and graduates, Mr. Marxe will have changed the way that we steward the fortunes of government agencies, of nonprofit organizations, of hospitals. It’s awe-inspiring.”
Meet the very private man who has ventured forth to endow such an ambitious undertaking for the public benefit. Says Marxe “The objective is to put the money where it does some special good, where it can make a positive difference in the world.”
A Benefactor Like Us
Like so many Baruch students, Bronx native Austin Marxe came from a family of modest means. His father struggled professionally and financially, sometimes working two jobs. “We didn’t have a lot of money,” recalls Marxe. “So when it came to going to college, it was simple: Get a scholarship. Get into City College. Or don’t go. Fortunately I got into City.”
At first Marxe attended City College uptown, majoring in chemical engineering, which he quickly realized wasn’t for him. He transferred downtown (to today’s Baruch) with the idea of one day going into business for himself. “Of course, I had no concept of how to go about that,” he says. His only plan: majoring in accountancy. “I thought that if I were an accountant, I would get to see the inner workings of many businesses and maybe then figure out how to start my own.” During his college years, Marxe worked various full-time jobs by day and took a full course load at night. Sometimes he would do homework on the subway. “It wasn’t easy,” he states.