A special bequest

7 December 2023

This philanthropy column by Donald Tillman was first published in ETH Zurich’s Globe Magazine in December 2023.

ETH Zurich Foundation, A special bequest
© ETH Library / Frank Blaser
© ETH Library / Frank Blaser

One of our jobs at the ETH Foundation is to offer professional advice to people who would like to remember ETH Zurich in their will. This often gives a fascinating insight into lives that have been connected to ETH in some way. Take Sylvan Eigenmann, for example: his late father, Hans Loeffel, studied and wrote his doctorate at ETH before working for many years as Professor of Mathematics and Stat­istics at the University of St Gallen. Professor Loeffel was very interested in the historical side of his subject and wrote a biography of Blaise Pascal.

During his lifetime, he built up a considerable collection of
antiquarian books. According to his son, Professor Loeffel always felt a strong bond to ETH. In memory of his father, Sylvan Eigenmann has therefore bequeathed these valuable volumes, including many first editions, to the ETH Library. It is here that they now reside, safe and sound in the Rare Books collection, serving as an example of how we do all that we can to accommodate the last wishes of ETH donors.