Payton Memorial Guestbook Entry

Bob Payton was fond of saying that when he commuted to his job as president of Hofstra University in the wee hours of the morning, he was the only guy on the train in a suit. At the Center on Philanthropy in 1989, he was always at his desk when I arrived around 7:00 a.m.  By then, he was usually printing out his morning’s work—sometimes an ambitious list of ideas for Center projects and programs; sometimes the latest version of a speech or paper. He was eager to discuss his thoughts. What is serial reciprocity? Do you live for philanthropy or off philanthropy? When is money tainted? What are the varieties of philanthropic experience?


At lunchtime, Bob was usually at his table at Chancellor’s, earnestly explaining his work to colleagues. One after another, they embraced his vision—conducting new research, developing courses and writing articles—and eventually came together to become the world’s pre-eminent faculty in philanthropic studies. 


Bob shared his wisdom with one and all—university faculty and students, nonprofit executives, community leaders, and those of us who were privileged to work for him. His gracious leadership and passion inspired us all.


In the 20+ years since then, hardly a week has gone by when I haven’t quoted Bob Payton or discussed his essays with colleagues and students. From time to time, I meet a former Payton student or staffer now working in the sector, and observe with pleasure how quickly and widely his ideas are becoming disseminated. Clearly, Bob’s work will influence voluntary-sector scholarship and practice for generations to come.


Anita Plotinsky


Anita H. Plotinsky and Associates, LLC

Washington, D.C.