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Press Release -Marist College Acquires Payne Mansion

Marist College, Poughkeepsie NY News Release 

An ornate, Italian -style mansion on 60 acres overlooking the Hudson River will become an institute for leadership studies, thanks to a bequest by one of the 20th century's leading businessmen. 

Raymond A. Rich, who died June 19 at 97, has left the estate and a $10 million endowment to Marist College. The bequest, valued at $75 million, is the largest in the college's history. 

Marist President Dennis Murray and Rich's longtime companion, Claire Carlson, announced the gift Wednesday September 23, 2009 during a news conference at the estate. The estate and endowment will be used to create the Raymond A. Rich Institute for Leadership Development. 

Omega, as Rich called his mansion, is on Route 9W in the Town of Esopus. 

Rich was born in Los Angeles in 1912. He was raised in Des Moines, Iowa, and worked his way through Iowa State University, receiving a double engineering degree . After serving in the Navy and the Marine Corps during World War II, he went on to hold multiple and simultaneous chairman and chief executive positions at companies ranging from oil and gas exploration and production to publishing, banking and environmental engineering . 

"When I met him 43 years ago, he was chairman and CEO of seven corporations," Carlson said. 

The Raymond A. Rich Institute will be housed at the estate and will train students in the art of leadership for careers in business and industry, government, communications and the nonprofit sector, said Tim Massie, a spokesman for the college. 

"Ray left very specific instructions in his will," Massie said. "He wanted us to establish a leadership institute here, maintain the estate in its current state and preserve both the estate and his legacy." 

Rich bought the property from the Marist Brothers, the founders of Marist College, in 1986. Rich maintained a close relationship with them and the school, Massie said. 

"His belief was that leadership in any field has to be based in ethics," Massie said about Rich. 

While the details still need to be worked out, Murray is not short on ideas. "This will become the hub of a comprehensive program," he said. 

The school could host seminars for Marist's graduate and undergraduate students, as well as corporate executives and people around the world, via the Internet, he said. "It's a place we could invite world leaders to stay," he said. 

The programs wouldn't be for students in only one major. "Leadership has to be interdisciplinary," Murray said. 

The idea for the institute was hatched 10 years ago, Carlson said. Rich was 87 at the time, and was thinking about what he wanted to do with the estate. He was also interested in developing a place for leadership studies. 

The two ideas came together during a conversation among Murray, Rich and her, Carlson said, while the college president and his wife were visiting them in the Scottish Highlands. 

While she won't have a direct role in the institute, Carlson said, she will be on a "committee of protectors" that will oversee the project and make sure it goes in the direction Rich wanted. 

Carlson, a Florida resident, said she and Rich would spend several weeks at the estate each fall and spring. 

"I love it here," she said. "There's no place else in the whole world so pretty as the Hudson River Valley in early October." 

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