The Graham Circle

The Graham Circle recognizes supporters who provide $1,000 or more annually to the School’s mission of expanding lifelong learning.


Hull gate

Members ($1,000)

Circle members directly uplift the lives of learners through their philanthropy, as well as inspire others to give generously. Members of the Graham Circle enjoy the following benefits:

  • Invitation to an annual Circle gathering that celebrates Graham’s mission.
  • Invitations to select Graham programs and events aimed at fostering connection across Graham’s extraordinary supporters. 
  • Ongoing opportunities to interact with the Graham Dean, elective faculty, instructors, and staff. 
  • Recognition in the Graham Circle honor rolls and an opportunity to share your personal experience to inspire others.

Patrons ($2,500)

Patrons enjoy all Member level benefits plus:

  • Membership in the Chicago Society, including recognition in the University honor roll, complimentary admissions to Harper Lectures, exclusive invitations to University-wide events, and special access to University programs and publications. 
  • Invitation to a special annual gathering to acknowledge, celebrate, and connect the School's vital supporters.

Sustainer ($5,000)

Starting with the 2023-2024 academic year, we are pleased to recognize individuals who give $5,000 or more as Sustainers within the Graham Circle. Sustainers enjoy all the benefits of Patron plus:

  • Exclusive opportunities for engagement with special academic programming, elective faculty, instructors, and the Dean.

Benefactor ($10,000+)

Starting with the 2023-2024 academic year, we are pleased to recognize individuals who give $10,000 or more as Benefactors within the Graham Circle. Benefactors enjoy all the benefits of Sustainer plus:

  • Personalized updates on how your philanthropy is advancing our mission.

For more information on ways to give or if you have questions, email Iris Clever.


Charter Members

The Graham School is honored to recognize the Charter Members of the Graham Circle. These founding members of the Graham Circle strengthen Graham’s offerings and open our doors to a broader community through their generosity and support. (Note: Select Circle members have asked to remain anonymous and are therefore not listed below.) 

  • Katherine Abbott and Jerry Szatan*
  • Beverlee Anderson
  • Scott Anderson and Laura Anderson
  • Barbara Andrews
  • The Basler Family
  • Katharine L. Bensen and C. Richard Johnson
  • Florin Berca and Jane Hampson **
  • Melanie Berg and Thomas Berg**
  • Bonnie Blevins*
  • Mary Jo Boldingh and Edwin Boldingh*
  • Brian Burrows*
  • John Callahan*
  • Debra Cantrell and Keith Cantrell*
  • J. Harrison Christian
  • Kate M. Coleman
  • David Conder**
  • Julie Conway*
  • Mary Coyne
  • Ms. Anne L. Gehring**
  • Patricia Gerber and Gregory Gerber*
  • George Hardin*
  • Linda H. Heagy and Thomas C. Heagy**
  • Christian Herrmann
  • Alexandra Inzer
  • Bruce Johnson and Kathryn Gibbons Johnson
  • Patricia D. Klowden and Michael L. Klowden**
  • Brae Korin and Norm Ryan**
  • Priya Laroia and Christopher Valenti*
  • Susan Nedza Lastres and Oswaldo Lastres**
  • Roberta Lee and Bob Lee**
  • Averill Leviton and Bernard Leviton*
  • Jennifer Lind**
  • Heather Locke and J. Michael Locke
  • Roberta Mann and George Mann*
  • David Mark and Carol Ann Ardaugh*
  • Kathleen McCreary and Robert McCreary*
  • Erin Elizabeth McInerney
  • William J. McNally*
  • William Meade*
  • Tom and Rosemarie Mitchell*
  • Christopher Noon 
  • Lawrence Pelka*
  • Janice Perrino and Mike Perrino*
  • Anne Phillips and Donald Phillips**
  • Charles Phillips and Mary Phillips
  • Ernest Pitt
  • John W. and Sue L. Prange*
  • Gerald Ritter*
  • Kevin Russell**
  • Ellen Ryske**
  • Sheri Schneider and Reinhard Schneider
  • Natalie Schreyer**
  • Enid Shapiro and Gary Shapiro**
  • Hope R. Sheffield and Jeffrey T. Sheffield**
  • Maria Victoria Soriano*
  • Barbara Stein and Sheldon Stein
  • Barbara Stewart**
  • Lisbeth Stiffel
  • James Sulzer**
  • Ross Sweeny and Helen Epstein*
  • Maureen Talbot
  • Charles Taylor
  • Virginia C. Tobiason
  • Eliot R. Weinstein and Clare Rosean
  • Barbara Weisenburger**
  • Ronald Whiteford II**
  • Melisa Wilson*
  • Evonne Yonover and John Yonover**
  • Anonymous  
  • Anonymous*
  • Anonymous** (x2)

Why I Give to Graham

Every member of our Graham Circle has a unique reason for giving. We asked 10 members why they give and here is what they told us:

Headshot of Kate Coleman

"I think that, at its best, learning takes place within a community. A community that is committed to intellectual rigor and discussion, a community that is led by experts. For me and I hope for you, the Graham School has been just such a community, I cannot imagine my adult life without it. I hope you will join me in supporting the school so that others can access its unique and affecting approach to lifelong learning."
Kate Coleman

University of Chicago seal within a maroon circle

"The Graham School has been a wonderful addition to my life. It is a great privilege to read and spend time with my fellow students. The Graham School faculty are all varied and excellent in different ways. What they share in common is their great breadth of knowledge and their generosity as teachers. Financial support for so great a gift is a true pleasure to contribute towards."
Trish Gerber

Headshot of Roberta Lee.

"The Basic Program and classes at the Graham School have allowed me to tackle challenging texts I may never have read on my own. Guided by expert staff, and aided by students with a variety of experience and knowledge, I gained new understanding, opened myself to new points of view, and have grown intellectually. I am fully committed to being a life-long learner and I want to support the Graham School so that they may continue the excellent education they provide." 
Roberta Lee

Headshot of George Mann

"The Graham School offers opportunities for close study of great literature with wonderful instructors. The atmosphere is enriched by a community of students with a compelling interest in broadening their knowledge. Exploring new ideas and reawakening old experiences is a wonderful adventure."
George Mann

Headshot of Jan Perrino

"Little did I know when applying to Graham’s Masters in Liberal Arts (MLA) program that it would be just what was needed to propel my business career to the next level. Renowned faculty and compelling coursework taught me to be a better listener and a more effective contributor. It is an easy decision to give to this unparalleled institution."
Jan Perrino

Headshot of Don Phillips

"The Graham School is an exceptional resource for Chicago and now, via online classes, the world. With humanities courses being purged from many undergraduate programs, it is imperative that we find alternative ways to deliver these life-enhancing studies. Lifelong learning is more important and rewarding than ever and nobody does it better than the fine team at Graham. They merit our enthusiastic support."
Don Phillips

Headshot of Basic Program graduate Kevin Russell

"I love everything about the Basic Program and its alumni courses—the timeless readings, the thought-provoking guidance of talented instructors, the illuminating exchanges with fellow students. Over time I have come to appreciate how fortunate I am to have ready access to the highest-quality liberal arts courses under the leadership of the Graham School at the University of Chicago. I happily invest in the Graham School with the expectation that it will grow and prosper for the benefit of other interested lifelong students."
Kevin Russell

Headshot of Basic Program Graduate Hope Sheffield

"The Basic Program gave me the chance to take a cohesive liberal arts program with motivated fellow students and outstanding instructors... The rigorous reading and dialogue put my brain to work, and the content helped me grapple with the problem of what it means to be human. It made my life better. I give to express my appreciation to instructors and classmates, and to help preserve and grow the program now and into the future."
Hope Sheffield

Headshot of Larry Shiff

"It is my pleasure and joy to make philanthropic contributions to this extraordinary school. The Basic Program and all the various alumni classes I’ve enjoyed over the years have enriched my life immeasurably. The quality of instructors, the insightful, civil discourse among my classmates (and now many friends), and the intellectual energy generated is beyond words. For me it is a great privilege to re-engage with so many texts that I read years ago ...and to discover a number of texts that I’m reading for the first time. Hats off to lifelong learning!"
Larry Shiff

Headshot of Basic Program alumna Virginia Tobiason

"I think very highly of the Basic Program, and I believe the liberal arts need to be supported… This program has been so valuable to me. The instructors are truly committed; you make new friends and get new views. It’s been a real plus in my life."
Virginia Tobiason

University of Chicago seal within a maroon circle

"I’m committed to the Basic Program and the Graham School. Delighted to engage and discuss with classmates as we adapt to new changes and our experience of them. These courses are challenging and they bring me joy.  An experience I hope more people will share."
Barbara Weisenburger