Champlain College Receives $10M Gift From the Stiller Family Foundation

BURLINGTON, Vt. (Oct. 22, 2012) — Robert P. Stiller, founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, wants to improve business education with many of the tools he used to empower, develop and engage the people in the two successful companies he built. Champlain College today announced a $10 million gift from Robert and Christine Stiller through the Stiller Family Foundation, and that it will name its business school the Robert P. Stiller School of Business.

In announcing the gift and naming, Champlain President David Finney said the Stiller School of Business will be a national leader in teaching strength based management practices such as Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and building thinking skills, personal competencies and capacity." We are grateful, beyond measure or words, to the Stiller family for their generosity and for the confidence this investment demonstrates in us," Finney said in making the announcement on Monday.

"Robert Stiller built Green Mountain Coffee Roasters into one of the most financially successful companies of the past 25 years, embracing and leading business in making the world a better place with its focus on social responsibility and by providing a great place to work. A key aspect of their management practice was incorporating Appreciative Inquiry (AI) techniques," said Finney.

"Then, he partnered with us in 2011 to hold an AI Summit at Champlain to explore how the college can improve its support of, and impact on the Vermont economy through partnerships and training. Appreciative inquiry is a whole system, strength based approach to change that has been applied in thousands of organizations worldwide - the UN Global Compact, the US Navy, British Airways, and Arizona State University to name a few. AI works with the whole system in an organization, engaging people all levels of an organization as well as its stakeholder community and is particularly effective for organizations facing rapid change or growth."

Finney added that this gift will allow Champlain's graduates in business to join the ranks of a growing number of business schools that teach Appreciative Inquiry including Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management, Pepperdine University and ESADE in Spain. The Stiller's gift "will create a competitive advantage for Champlain's graduates and for Vermont's businesses and entrepreneurs. We so appreciate Bob's confidence in us. His generosity will enable us to continue to engage with Vermont businesses, organizations and communities to help drive success via effective management and leadership."

The gift-the largest in the college's 134-year history-will support Champlain College's $25 million comprehensive Vision Innovation Passion Campaign and the 2020 Champlain College Strategic Plan. The Business School will receive funding for two endowed faculty chairs as well as an endowment fund that will focus on the development of programs based on positive psychology management theory and practice. Funding will also support capital projects. 
"We have great faith in Champlain College. What they have accomplished over the past 20 years is truly remarkable and we have full confidence in its leadership and faculty. We want to help Champlain accomplish its goals and vision to become the finest small, professionally and globally focused college in the United States. We wish to show our support with a transformational gift," the Stillers said.

"When you seek to understand and focus on what works, you can form and empower your dreams and make a plan to realize them" said Stiller. "We believe that to redefine business, it is necessary to introduce new thinking into how business is taught to the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. This is particularly important with regard to the role of the individual within the context of all stakeholders in a corporation or a community."

The College held a two-day Champlain Summit in August 2011 and introduced many in the Vermont community to the Appreciative Inquiry process that has been used so successfully at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The Champlain Summit brought stakeholders such as alumni, employers, government officials, faculty, staff and students to campus to develop a cutting edge career support services model. "The Summit allowed us to jump-start a long planning cycle by convening our entire stakeholder community to work on the design of this new service." Finney noted.

"Only by listening to others can we expect to meet employers' current and future workforce needs - knowledge, flexibility, leadership, global-connectivity - while also ensuring that our students and alumni succeed over the course of their working life," Finney added.

"We will create a model that further differentiates our students and alumni in the world of work. The programs, faculty, students and relationships with the workforce that emerge from the Stiller School of Business will help us craft concrete strategies to deliver the best prepared graduates to serve as employees and employers in Vermont, across the U.S. and around the world," Finney said.

The $10 million gift is to be made over the next five years and supports the College's comprehensive campaign initiatives. The Stillers have asked that funds be used to:

• Create two endowed Business School Chairs to help secure talented faculty in management with expertise in positive psychology management theory and practice such as Appreciative Inquiry - $4 million.
• Create an endowed fund to produce Appreciative Inquiry programs and training for Vermont and regional companies and organizations - $2 million.
• Fund capital investments in Perry Hall and a new Center for Communications and Creative Media adjacent to the Hauke Family Center. The new facility will free up space in the S.D. Ireland Family Center for Global Business and Technology so that all the business faculty and programs will be located in one building - $4 million.

A portion of the funds includes a $2 million challenge grant, according to Tere Gade, Senior Director of Advancement and Campaign. "Our long-term goal is to build institutional capacity by increasing alumni support through annual and planned giving - a goal that aligns closely with the Stiller Family's philanthropic values. If we get 2,000 Champlain College alumni to make a donation of any size to the College by June 30, 2013, we will receive the Stiller's $2 million challenge grant toward our $25 million Vision Innovation Passion Campaign," she said.

"It is our hope that because of this gift, graduates of Champlain College's Stiller School of Business will benefit from a distinctive business education that will positively influence them personally as well as their organizations throughout their careers," Bob Stiller said.

About the Stiller Foundation: 

The Stiller Family Foundation is dedicated to helping people help themselves. The foundation was established by the family of Bob and Christine Stiller and their three children, reflecting their shared passion for improving people's lives in meaningful, sustainable ways. The majority of the foundation's work has focused on Vermont, and provides support to programs and organizations relating to personal development, education, and community development through organizations including Champlain College, the King Street Center, Burlington City Arts and Rebuilding Waterbury. For more information on the Stiller Family Foundation please visit

For more information: 

  • Champlain College: Stephen Mease, Public Information and News Director
    Office: 802-865-6432, Mobile 802-578-8029 or
  • Stiller Family Foundation: Rick Keating
    Office: 212-925-6900, Mobile 917-767-2400 or

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit