Record-breaking gift supports career preparation at Carthage College

Longtime Carthage College benefactor Jan Tarble has donated $15 million — the largest single gift in Carthage’s history — to fund a distinctive career and welcome center that will equip graduates to thrive in a rapidly changing workforce.

The gift from the Tarble Family Foundation will address four main priorities:

  • a dedicated facility that incorporates technology for virtual networking and physical space for in-person interviews and career counseling
  • enhanced programs designed to promote career readiness and harness the expertise of alumni and parents
  • an endowment to provide additional staffing and attract elite career development professionals
  • an endowment to support experiential learning, including internships and study away

“As one of the four principal founders of Snap-on, my father had a great appreciation for the power of tools. With the right tools, people work more productively and efficiently,” Ms. Tarble said. “Both he and my mother would echo my support of a career center that equips Carthage students with the tools they will need in the decades ahead.”

Ms. Tarble also recognizes the value of a liberal arts education in helping to prepare young professionals for the workforce. In conversations about the gift with President Gregory Woodward and Vice President Evelyn Buchanan, she stressed the fine education Carthage students receive while acknowledging the edge in career readiness and success her gift could bring.

“What could be more important than helping young people build a valuable life and finding good ways to use their Carthage education?” she said.

President Woodward called the gift a “truly beautiful” reflection of Ms. Tarble’s altruism.

“She gave this from an honest sentiment deep in her heart, knowing how powerful her support could be to generations of Carthage students,” he said. “Her amazing spirit and unbelievable generosity is truly a joy to share in. It is incredibly affirming to all of us at the College that a person of such prominence and means trusts our college with fulfilling some of her own dreams for a better world.”

In a recent survey conducted for Carthage, 97 percent of pre-college students and 100 percent of their parents said whether “graduates get good jobs” was a somewhat or very important factor in their college decision.

In the past four years, Carthage has added a director of employer relations and internships, created almost 200 new paid internships through a $349,000 grant, launched the Carthage in Chicago semester program, and started a mentoring initiative to pair students with alumni in their fields.

Increased demand also has taxed the existing staff. Career Services held more than 1,200 appointments with students and alumni during the 2015-16 academic year.

Carthage administrators emphasize that the new center’s services will cover all stages of career development. Plans for its development will be shaped over the course of the spring semester and upcoming summer.

“The career preparation process starts long before that first job interview,” Ms. Buchanan said. “From exploring potential majors as a freshman to joining Carthage’s active alumni network, our students can expect to head into the workforce or graduate school confident and ready for success.”


Combined with other members of her philanthropic family, Ms. Tarble has given more than $51 million to the College. Her recent $10 million gift enabled the construction of the Science Center, which opened in 2015.

In addition to her charitable work, the longtime Los Angeles-area resident has a wide spectrum of interests and pursues each to the fullest. An avid birder, Ms. Tarble has observed more bird species and songs in the Mojave Desert than anyone. In golf, she once won the Women’s Texas Open and competed in the U.S. Open. And her well-worn passport shows visits to every continent and close to 100 countries.

“I wish that everyone at Carthage could have the chance to meet this extraordinary woman,” President Woodward commented. “Her life story is astounding and inspiring: education at Stanford and UCLA, careers in pottery and art, an amazing run of amateur and professional golfing success, and an adult life filled with studied philanthropy in support of higher education, health care, and orphaned children.

“Jan is great company; she is sharp, witty, opinionated, and always gracious and humble. She believes in what we do, and passionately. Carthage College has benefited more over the years from her support than from any other single enterprise or person. We are truly her college.”

Her parents, the late Newton E. and Louise A. (Pat) Tarble, formed a relationship with Carthage that spans more than 50 years. Executives at Snap-on Inc., now an S&P 500 manufacturing firm, heartily welcomed Carthage’s move to Kenosha from western Illinois in the early 1960s.

The family’s seven-figure donations also enabled the N. E. Tarble Athletic and Recreation Center, the Tarble Arena, and the Campbell Student Union. In the Tarbles’ honor, Carthage also established a scholarship for California students who embrace a “spirit of adventure”.

Carthage now embarks on its own adventure, eager to combine the best of liberal arts education with a new focus on professional and career development. Embodying her spirit and lifetime philosophy, Ms. Tarble said recently at the close of a wonderful lunch and a thorough discussion of this special gift with President Woodward: “Well, my dear, it’s time to get up and get moving!”

Story originally published on Carthage College News.

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