Leonard Egan

Year of Graduation: 
Leonard Egan center with fellow 1959 classmates and donors.

Support for the arts grew from reunion weekend.

When the curtain rose on A Midsummer Night’s Dream last fall, the first mainstage performance in The David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Theater and Dance, few in the audience were thinking about how the building would age or how Exeter would fund its ongoing maintenance. In that moment, it was about the students, the magic they were creating on stage, and the anticipation of all that is now possible in this new venue.

Thanks to alumni like Leonard Egan ’59 (center in photo above), students’ creative potential can flourish for years to come, in spaces that remain vibrant. Egan generously made an irrevocable bequest pledge in support of the Goel Center endowment to help fund the building’s longterm care in perpetuity. It is not the first institutional priority that Egan has chosen to support.

Just a few days before the Goel Center opening, the student Symphony Orchestra had given its first performance of the academic year in “The Bowld.” The 250-seat performance space’s glass wall and the campus framed beyond it served as a magnificent backdrop, and its exquisite acoustics allowed both musicians and audience members to hear and feel the music as never before. The Bowld is part of the Class of 1959 Music Center Addition to the Forrestal-Bowld Music Center. Egan, in partnership with classmate Dudley Rauch ’59, was instrumental in fundraising for this building addition, which opened in 2016.

Egan’s support of Exeter was sparked when he returned for his 45th class reunion in 2004. Prior to that, he had not been back on campus since his graduation. After two years at Exeter, he graduated from Harvard College and then from Harvard Law School. Thereafter, establishing a law practice in Washington, D.C., kept him busy. In reconnecting with his former classmates, seeing student life and the campus itself, Egan appreciated more fully Exeter’s impact on him.

“I learned more in those two years than in any two years of my life — there’s no question about it,” he says.

After the reunion, Egan quickly signed on to help plan the next one. He has since served as a class agent, reunion fundraiser and, most recently, class president. Perhaps his greatest impact was early in his tenure, in 2014, when he volunteered to contact scores of classmates, collaborating with Rauch to inspire donations from 45 alums. That lead gift of more than $4.5 million helped fund the addition named in honor of the class’s extraordinary generosity.

The new space features a recording studio, teaching and rehearsal spaces, a media and technology center, and The Bowld. Both faculty and students have raved about its impact on the arts at Exeter.

“The creation of this Bowld definitely uplifted the Exeter music experience,” Sophia Oguri ’18 said before she graduated. “It makes me excited to come in here every morning and every night to rehearse. It’s just a great space.”

Professional musician and Music Instructor Peter Schultz agrees: “The benefits have been enormous. The Bowld provides us with a beautiful space, perfect for our concerts, as well as a lovely rehearsal area. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a more stunning and congenial environment in which to make music.”

Though a classical music fan, Egan says he can’t put a finger on what, exactly, inspired him to contribute to the arts at Exeter in this way, other than that he saw a need and wanted to help out.

“I look back on Exeter,” Egan says, “as probably the best educational experience of my life.”

—Sarah Zobel

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the spring 2019 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.