A $5.6 million gift from an anonymous donor will honor retiring Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Steven Janke and help support financial aid at Colorado College.

Of the gift, $2.5 million will be directed toward a chaired professorship established in honor of Janke, who joined the faculty in 1975 and is retiring at the end of the academic year. The estate commitment also will benefit Colorado College students by providing $3.1 million in financial aid.

“When I was a student at Colorado College, Steven Janke changed everything,” says the donor, a member of the Class of 1982. “I had not been a successful math student, and he helped me regain my confidence. He also piqued my interest in computer science. His advice and encouragement shaped my career.”

“It’s a huge honor for me and for the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Colorado College,” Janke says. “The alumnus who made this gift is essentially saying that math and computer science are worth the investment. Computer science now applies across so many disciplines, including sociology, psychology, and philosophy,” says Janke, who consistently has emphasized the powerful cross-disciplinary application of computer science as technology has evolved.

Initially hired as a statistician, Janke was tapped to teach the department’s first computer science course and played pivotal roles throughout the department’s history. Computer science became an emphasis of study in 1989 and a major in 2005. “I’ve enjoyed teaching a whole lot and I hope I’ve made some difference,” Janke says.

“During Steven’s career at Colorado College, which has spanned four decades, countless students have learned from him and gone on to successful and meaningful lives,” says Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler, who pays tribute to Janke in a blog post. “The gift is an incredibly generous acknowledgement of the talent and dedication of our faculty, and it will ensure that Colorado College continues to attract high-quality professors who are as passionate as Steven about teaching on the Block Plan.”

“The main purpose of endowing the chaired professorship is to honor the fine tradition of excellent teaching and intellectual development at Colorado College, which have been exemplified throughout Steven’s career,” says the donor.

The donor also emphasized the significance of financial aid. “It’s important for Colorado College to reach a diverse group of students,” says the donor. “Scholarships can reduce the financial burden and allow students to graduate without a large amount of debt.”

“This far-reaching gift will benefit Colorado College faculty and students for generations to come,” Tiefenthaler says. “Our faculty and our alumni time and again demonstrate their commitment to each other and our extraordinary place within and beyond higher education.”