OUR CHairman

Robert A. Day

OUR CHairman

Robert A. Day

We are saddened to report the passing of our Chairman, Robert Day, on September 14, 2023. Our family is heartbroken about the passing of our loving father and cousin.

As the W. M. Keck Foundation’s Co-Chief Executive Officers, we wish to express our gratitude for his 28 years of leadership of the Foundation his grandfather founded in 1954.  Robert joined the Board in 1965 and became Chairman in 1995.  In doing so, he led our Foundation in big, bold philanthropy that would “move the needle” in the sciences and would positively impact so many people in the Foundation’s Southern California home.

During Robert’s directorship, the Foundation awarded grants totaling over $2 billion and currently has $1.5 billion in assets. His tenure saw a remarkable eight scientists the Foundation funded early in their work granted nine Nobel Prizes, five named MacArthur Fellows, two receive Benjamin Franklin Awards, and two receive Lasker Awards.

Robert led the many Foundation contributions throughout Southern California and around the United States.  See below for a selection of these legacy projects.

Robert strongly believed in the Foundation’s mission to support pioneering discoveries in science, engineering and medical research.  In the area of education, he was committed to supporting undergraduate programs that promote inventive approaches to instruction and effective involvement of students in research.  In Southern California, he focused on the Foundation supporting organizations that enrich the lives of the region’s residents, particularly children, youth and their families.

We will continue that mission of generating far-reaching benefits for humanity and following the ideals of our founding great grandfather, our uncle, our father and our cousin.

Joseph Day
Co-Chief Executive Officer
W. M. Keck Foundation

Steve Keck
Co-Chief Executive Officer
W. M. Keck Foundation

Robert A. Day Biography

An American businessman, investor and philanthropist, Robert Addison Day founded Trust Company of the West in 1971 and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the W. M. Keck Foundation, one of the nation’s leading private philanthropic organizations. Recognition of his efforts in business and charity includes the Decoration of Officier de la Légion d’Honneur from the Government of France and California Institute of Technology’s Millikan Medal, the institution’s highest honor.

Mr. Day served as a director of Société Générale, Freeport‑McMoRan, and Fisher Scientific. He was also a member of The Business Council, The Brookings Institution, and the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Trust Company of the West
Under Robert’s leadership, Trust Company of the West became one of the world’s leading global asset management firms. Over the years, TCW’s clients included many of the largest corporate and public pension plans, financial institutions and endowments and foundations in the United States, along with investors and high-net-worth individuals from around the world. 

W. M. Keck Foundation
Robert led the many contributions made by the W. M. Keck Foundation, founded by his grandfather, William Myron Keck, in 1954.  As Chief Executive Officer from 1995 through 2021 and Chairman from 1995 through his passing, Robert guided large projects throughout California and around the United States, including:

Keck Medicine of USC, UCLA’s Keck Biomedical Initiative, the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Keck Institute for Space Studies at California Institute of Technology, Chapman University’s Keck Center of Science and Engineering, the Keck Graduate Institute at Claremont Colleges, COVID-19 research at USC and UCLA and safety net grants.

Claremont McKenna College
Robert remained a steadfast supporter of Claremont McKenna College from his graduation in 1965, most notably through his visionary philanthropy and as CMC’s longest-serving member of the Board of Trustees which he chaired from 1990 to 1998.

In 2007, Robert made a transformative $200 million gift that established CMC’s Robert Day Scholars Program. At the time, it was largest ever recorded gift to a liberal arts institution. The College also renamed the economics department in his honor — the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance. In recognition of a lead gift from the W. M. Keck Foundation, and Day family foundation investments, in 2021 CMC established the Robert Day Sciences Center that will serve as home to CMC’s new integrated sciences program and expand the College’s commitment to preparing future leaders.

Additional Business and Philanthropy
Robert was an active investor. He established Cypress Partners (one of the industry’s first hedge funds) in 1969 and Oakmont Corporation, his family office, in 1980.

Among his largest private investments, Robert and his extended family invested more than 30 years ago in Cabo Del Sol, an 1,800 acre master planned community, which in 2021 announced plans for a Four Seasons Resort and Residences.  From 1994 until 2015, Robert, his extended family and partners, through Foley Timber and Land Company, were the largest landowners in Florida with 560,000 acres, then one of the largest contiguous parcels of undeveloped land east of the Mississippi River.

Other philanthropic work included the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, the Board of Overseers of USC’s Keck School of Medicine and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  Robert was a Life Trustee at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; an Honorary Trustee of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Saint John’s Health Center; a Founders Circle Member of the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University; and a Member of The Broad Foundations Board of Governors.

Robert Day earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Claremont McKenna College in 1965 and started his career with the investment banking firm White, Weld and Company in New York.

Special Projects

During his time as Chairman, Robert guided a number of major special projects.  Below is a selection of those projects.

USC Keck School of Medicine

1998-Present – $272m

USC is one of the nation’s leading private research universities. These grants were designed to strengthen and expand the Keck School of Medicine, support the growth of its research programs, and accelerate groundbreaking medical, clinical and translational research and education.

National Academies Keck Futures Initiative

2002 - $40m

The 15-year Keck Futures program was designed to stimulate interdisciplinary scientific and technological research that bridges disciplines, cultures, institutions and methodologies. It supports the Futures conferences and seed grants to its participants.

Robert Day Sciences Center

2018 - $40m

To enhance Claremont McKenna College’s interdisciplinary science research and education.

Keck Institute for Space Studies — California Institute of Technology

2007 - $24m

The Institute combines the brainstorming of new ideas on space science and technology with follow-up research and development.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

2020 - $50m

To improve access to art and art education for Angelenos from all parts of our region.