Impact of Giving

These are the stories of the individuals and foundations who help advance Chicago medicine and science through their vision and philanthropy.


The Haselkorns, Robert (left) and Margot (right) with their granddaughter Katherine 

Donor Stories

Generational Bond to University

Clad in his ceremonial hood and robe, Robert Haselkorn, PhD, joined fellow faculty at the University of Chicago's June convocation to honor the graduation of his granddaughter, Katherine, just as he had for his son's college graduation 27 years before. On this occasion, Katherine Haselkorn, AB '10, cemented the newest milestone in her family's relationship with the University, which now spans four generations.    

Since Katherine’s great grandfather, Percy E. Wagner, PhB ’16, began the family’s connection with the University in the early 20th century, each family member involved with the school has pursued his or her unique interests at the institution and created a special Chicago story of their own.

Long-time members of the University community, Robert “Bob” Haselkorn, the Fanny Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, and his wife, Margot, have impacted numerous departments and schools within the institution. Bob has loyally served on the faculty since 1961. “Nothing compares with the combination of freedom and responsibility at the University of Chicago. Outstanding colleagues, outstanding students… I think from the faculty point of view it could be the best place to work in the United States.”

Bob identifies his greatest contribution during his tenure as training “the tremendous group of people who have passed through my laboratory and have absorbed some of the things we were able to impart. Among them, I hope, high standards for teaching, research, and publications.”

Margot and Robert Haselkorn visiting lectureship 
One expression of Bob’s commitment to training was in 2005 when he and Margot established the Margot and Robert Haselkorn Visiting Lectureship in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. With five successful lectures now complete, Bob is pleased that their gift has helped bring new techniques and ideas to the department.

In addition to her involvement with the lectureship, Margot has pursued her own passions at the University over the decades. She currently serves on the Chicago Lying-in Hospital Board of Directors. “We do a lot for mothers and newborn babies, and I think we’ve done a lot as a support system for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.” Margot previously taught at the Lab School and notes, “I still know many of the students that I taught to read.” Notably, Margot and Bob’s children, Deborah Fine, LAB ’77, and David Haselkorn, LAB ’79, AB ’83, JD ’87, both attended the Lab School.

As an undergraduate, David transferred into the University of Chicago after attending a large state institution. “It was a great change to make because it was exactly what I thought: smaller classes, more personalized instruction, and a tremendous education in a great setting.” He found these same qualities true of the Law School.  

While at the college, David met his future wife, Elizabeth F. Haselkorn, AB ’83, the granddaughter of Percy Wagner. At the University, Elizabeth, a swimmer, was invited to the annual athletic banquet during her freshman year with her grandfather, a former pole-vaulter for the track team. She notes, “I was 16 when I came to the University. Being honored at the banquet was really wonderful, because he was the oldest person there who received a letter, and I was the youngest person there receiving a letter. They had us both stand up, and it was really kind of neat to see.”

Building life skills  
While Elizabeth and David credit the University with helping them build many essential skills such as analytic thinking and competent writing, Elizabeth is most grateful for the college’s core curriculum. By taking classes on topics she wasn’t necessarily interested in, Elizabeth notes, “I actually ended up discovering I had an interest and some strength in areas that I didn’t realize.”

When asked to reflect on her family’s longstanding relationship with the University, Katherine remarked, “It’s really been an honor to continue my family’s legacy. I don’t know what the future holds, but I love the thought of continuing that legacy with my own children and grandchildren.”

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