Jan Tanner Poskas '98 M.A.R.: Professor of Ethics
By Patricia Kriss '09 M.Div.
Peter Poskas and Jan Tanner Poskas '98 M.A.R. share many things: an expressive house built by Peter, an appreciation for beauties of the past, a commonsense approach to the challenges of the present, and a commitment to those who will succeed them in the future. Peter, an artist, and Jan, who left a life steeped in the world of finance for a second career as an instructor of applied ethics, also share something else: both are dedicated advocates of Yale Divinity School. In fact, Jan played a critical role in establishing the new Margaret Farley Junior Chair in Ethics, which she supported financially and encouraged other former YDS students to support as well.
Now Peter and Jan have taken their support one step further, structuring their estate planning to provide Yale Divinity School with a personal gift of a lifetime. What prompts such thoughtful giving among two still-engaged Baby Boomers?
"We have a granddaughter, so we decided to consider our wills," Jan explained. "I tend to look at things with the practical eye of an economist in planning for the future. On the one hand, we don't want to run out of money for each other's needs. On the other hand, while we want to provide for our children in our wills and to give them financial freedom, there is such a thing as too much freedom.
"We also wanted to leave money to five schools we really like. Yale Divinity School is one of them. So I was delighted to see how Yale works with you to meet your needs. We arranged in our wills to have our IRA accounts-our profit-sharing accounts that both Peter and I have-to be left first to the one of us, and provided that the other person does not need it for health expenses and such, then that gift would be distributed to the five schools including YDS. It really does take into account our changing needs."
Jan added, "Giving money to the Divinity School is so hands-on. They take your ideas and they work with you, listen to what you want...they're terrific that way. They don't just throw your money in a pot. I was really thrilled."
"Yale's endowment is so well-managed you could put in the smallest amount," she observed, "and it will still grow beautifully."
Jan and Peter's gift, while practical, is deeply rooted in Yale Divinity School's inspirational spirit. "Where else but at a place like the Div School are we going to prepare good leadership-not just for the religious community, but for the world at large-in solving intractable problems?" Jan said.
Like others, the Tanners offer a simple yet profound reason to give: "The two or three years spent at the Div School are life-altering," Jan suggested. "I know it was for me. Being surrounded by people who believe in God is an incredibly nurturing experience. It gives you great pleasure to know you are contributing to a well of resources that will keep this institution going. It's a good feeling-a very good feeling."