In the classic holiday movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” we are shown what a community would have been like without the presence and contributions of one man. In real life, it is difficult to imagine Hood College without the generosity of The Hodson Trust and the people whose vision and leadership have built the Trust into one of the nation’s premier philanthropic organizations.
Thomas S. Hodson (1837-1920) was a teacher, minister, lawyer, newspaper publisher, and politician. In 1883, he was elected to the Maryland State Senate. A widely respected businessman and strong advocate of education, he settled The Hodson Trust in 1920.
Col. Clarence Hodson (1868-1928) was a director of more than 40 banks, trust and mortgage companies, insurance companies, and public utilities during his 40-year business career. In 1914, he founded the Beneficial Loan Society, which grew from one office to 200 offices across the United States. His ideas and continued business accomplishments read as a case study for business and modeling.
Lillian Brown Hodson (1868-1963), the wife of Col. Hodson, shared her husband’s interest in education and was particularly interested in the welfare of Hood. She served on the Hood College Board of Trustees and her gifts, in addition to those from The Hodson Trust, made possible the construction of the original Hodson Science Center in 1957.
Finn M. W. Caspersen H.D.L. ’83, chairman of The Hodson Trust since 1976 and a national leader in the field of education, has continued to honor Col. Hodson’s interest in higher education. In 1983, Hood honored Caspersen with an honorary doctor of laws degree, and what was said then still rings true today: “You have discovered that a company is only as alive as the people it employs, that the vitality of the economy rests with the vision of its leaders, and that tomorrow’s future rests with those being educated today.”
He is the second-generation member of the Caspersen family to serve on the Board of Trustees of The Hodson Trust, following in the tradition of his father, Olaus W. Caspersen, chairman of the Trust from 1928 to 1971. In 2000, Finn M. W. Caspersen Jr., became the third generation to serve on the Board of Trustees of The Hodson Trust.
Each year, The Hodson Trust awards grants to four Maryland colleges: Hood, The Johns Hopkins University, St. John’s College, and Washington College. Under the stewardship of Finn Caspersen, the Trust’s donations to the four colleges have grown from $12.6 million to more the $118 million over the past 25 years. In addition to student scholarships and internships, the grants are used for professor endowments, research grants, information technology initiatives, athletic programs, large construction projects and endowment funds.
During a luncheon in Baltimore in December, the Trust awarded $2.4 million to Hood for the renovation and construction of the new Hodson Science and Technology Center. The money is part of The Hodson Trust’s $13 million pledge toward the $17 million center.
In accepting the gift, President Ronald J. Volpe said, “Our new science and technology center recognizes the increasing importance of science and technology in the Washington, D. C., and Baltimore regions. It will help contribute to the advancement of Hood’s students and to the economic progress of the region and the state of Maryland. From the first gift it gave to Hood in 1936, to the very generous gift today, The Hodson Trust continues to play an important role in making Hood College a premier educational institution.”
The Hodson name is almost synonymous with Hood College. It is linked to scholarships for students, fellowships for faculty, a lecture series, and an endowed professorship. Some of the named buildings and facilites are: Hodson Outdoor Theater (1938), Hodson Swimming Pool in Gambrill Gymnasium (1949), Hodson Science Center (1957), Hodson Gallery in Tatem Arts Center (1966), Beneficial-Hodson Library and Information Technology Center (1992), and the Hodson Science and Technology Center (2002).
Since 1936, The Hodson Trust has given more than $33 million to Hood.