A major new commitment from Northwestern University trustee and alumnus T. Bondurant “Bon” French ’75, ’76 MBA and his wife, Hollis “Holly” S. French, has pushed fundraising for We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern past the $4 billion mark and well beyond its original goal of $3.75 billion, nearly two years ahead of schedule.
Bon and Holly French are dedicated Northwestern volunteers who have led fundraising initiatives on behalf of the University and its Kellogg School of Management. Having seen the Campaign’s impact first-hand, they hope to inspire additional giving through their support.
“Holly and I care deeply for Northwestern and Kellogg and are proud to give back to the university that has meant so much to our family over the last seven decades,” says Bon French, a lifelong leader in the field of private equity. “Northwestern has the potential to make a significant and lasting impact on the world through strategic investments in education and discovery, and now is our moment.”
The Frenches’ gift — a transformational bequest commitment — will benefit Kellogg and University programs.
“Bon and I have been thrilled to be a part of the impact the Campaign has had across Kellogg and the University, and we look forward to growing that impact,” says Holly French, a longtime Northwestern volunteer. “We hope others will join us in ensuring an even brighter future for Northwestern and its students.”
With 37 years of continuous giving to the University, the Frenches are “platinum” level in NU Loyal, the society recognizing consistent giving to Northwestern. They are also members of the Henry and Emma Rogers Society, honoring those who have included Northwestern in their estate plans. Past gifts have supported Kellogg, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Athletics and Recreation, the Northwestern University Transportation Center and other areas of the University. The French Quarter within the Kellogg Global Hub, the Bon and Holly French Swimming Scholarship and a number of other funds are named in their honor.
Bon French is a member of the “We Will” Campaign Steering Committee and will serve as co-chair of the Campaign in 2019, leading a network of more than 675 U.S. and international Campaign volunteers. A member of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees since 2004, he currently chairs its investments committee and is a member of its executive and innovation and entrepreneurship committees. He also has chaired several of his class reunions, has been a guest lecturer and adviser, and is a member of the Kellogg Global Advisory Board and the Kellogg Finance Network. French was the 2011 recipient of the Schaffner Award, which honors Kellogg leaders who have made significant contributions to society and have exemplified Kellogg’s dynamic culture through their professional achievements.
After growing up in Peoria, Ill., French earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Northwestern’s Weinberg College in 1975 and an MBA from Kellogg in 1976. As an undergraduate, he was a swim team member, Associated Student Government representative and Beta Theta Pi social chairman. He also participated in the Model Railroad Club and Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps.
After graduating, French began his decades-long career in the investment sector. In 1980, he joined Chicago-based Adams Street Partners LLC, where he went on to serve as CEO and chief investment officer. Under French’s leadership, Adams Street Partners grew to be one of the largest private equity firms globally — with 10 locations worldwide — and was inducted into the Private Equity Hall of Fame. French is now the firm’s chairman.
Holly French grew up in West Hartford, Conn. After graduating from Ohio’s Denison University with degrees in math and history, she went to work for a Hartford bank, where she settled estates. She is now a self-described full-time volunteer, mentoring other women and giving her time to the Junior League, Northwestern Medicine’s Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and the Northwestern Women’s Board, which raises money for undergraduate scholarships.
The Frenches live in Glen Ellyn, Ill. They have two children, Katheryn Meagher ’07, who earned a bachelor’s in political science and international studies from Northwestern’s Weinberg College in 2007, and Taylor French, who graduated from Denison with a degree in geoscience in 2011. Bon French’s parents, Taylor French ’51 and Joan Trenchard French ’51, earned bachelor’s degrees from Northwestern in 1951, and his brother, Penn French ’89 MBA, earned his MBA from Kellogg in 1989.