Henry Riggs, Third Harvey Mudd College President, Dies

Henry E. (“Hank”) Riggs, past president of Harvey Mudd College, former vice president for development at Stanford University, founder and first president of Keck Graduate Institute, died at his home in Palo Alto on June 10, after a brief illness. His wife and children were at his side. A memorial service is planned for June 23 at 2:30 p.m. in the Arrillaga Alumni Center on the Stanford campus.

Riggs had a remarkable career as entrepreneur, professor, writer, and leader in higher education. He continually sought out challenges and his vision fundamentally shaped every institution with which he was involved. Throughout his life, his abiding passion was for teaching, and he taught up until a few weeks before his death. He will be remembered for his immense talent, enduring vision, uncompromising integrity and enormous generosity.

Riggs was named president of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, in 1988. During his nine years as president, the College expanded its campus, increased enrollment and endowment, and launched new departments in biology and computer science. He and his wife, Gayle, enriched the Harvey Mudd community through a very personal care and commitment to each constituency, strengthening the bonds of the College community. Each received the Harvey Mudd Alumni Association’s Honorary Alumni Award in 1997, and Riggs received an honorary doctorate from the College in 2006.

Riggs’ early career as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur left him convinced that colleges and universities need to be more flexible and entrepreneurial to serve their students and the public good. In 1997, Hank founded the seventh Claremont College, the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences (KGI). He served as the institution’s first president until 2003. His vision for KGI was based on his belief that life sciences would dominate the 21st century and that new institutions were needed to educate future leaders in this field.

Riggs wrote books and articles on accounting, management and finance for students and the general public. He also served on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards.

Riggs was raised in Hinsdale, Illinois, the youngest child of Joseph and Gretchen Riggs. He met Gayle Carson when they were both undergraduates at Stanford and they married in 1958. He is survived by his loving wife Gayle Riggs; his sister Ruth Wendel; his children Betsy McCarthy (Andy) of Seattle; Peter Riggs (Kathleen) of Harstine Island, Washington; Katie Riggs (John) of Burlingame; and six grandchildren: Sarah, Christopher, Carson, Molly, Sam and Gretchen.

Gifts in honor or memory of Riggs may be made to the funds he and Gayle established at Harvey Mudd College—the Henry and Gayle Riggs Endowed Scholarship or the Riggs Family Fellowship in Engineering Management. Unless specified, gifts will be designated to the Henry and Gayle Riggs Endowed Scholarship. For questions or to make a gift, call 844.448.3462.

Full biography and memorial website