Hobart and William Smith Colleges proudly announce a donation of $3.7 million by alumnus James F. Caird, class of 1956 and his wife, Cynthia L. Caird.
Last year, Hobart and William Smith launched the most ambitious fund-raising effort in its history – “Campaign for the Colleges – which seeks to raise $160 million. The Caird’s generous contribution has put this initiative over the $100 million mark.
To thank the Cairds for their generosity and many years of support, President of the Colleges, Mark D. Gearan, has announced that a new dormitory will be named “Caird Hall in their honor.
“Jim and Cindy have both been loyal donors to the Colleges, says Gearan. “Their willingness to support Campaign for the Colleges and their enthusiasm for Jim’s alma mater are extraordinary. Jim is a true entrepreneur, someone who built his business from the ground up. He is a tremendous success and a role model for our students.
Caird, an innovator in the marketing of personal lines auto insurance, founded Auto Insurance Specialists, Inc. (AIS) in 1968 in Manhattan Beach, California, which he built from a one-man office to the world’s largest privately owned personal lines insurance agency. When Caird sold the business in 1999 to Aon Corporation, AIS had 22 offices and 700 employees throughout California, and insured one-and-one-half out of every 100 cars in the state. Caird likes to quip, “How do you sell insurance to half a car?
Caird started his business with $500, two borrowed desks, an upright manual typewriter and several ideas for specialized marketing of his insurance policies. These marketing techniques included advertising by direct mail, billboards, bus benches, leaflets and even skywriting. After a short time, Caird began advertising on radio and television.
“My purpose was to make the name Auto Insurance Specialists so well known that everybody who had been in California for a month or more would have heard of us, says Caird.
He explains that the custom of selling auto insurance in customers’ homes was impractical given the time it took to navigate the Los Angeles freeways. AIS could serve more clients’ needs by being geographically accessible with many, smaller offices close to freeways, offices and shopping centers.
In 1990, Caird began dating Cindy, who had flown for TWA for 19 years and had been Director of Development for the Bob Hope-Hollywood USO. A passionate traveler, Cindy shares Caird’s love for adventure and laughter. They married in 1999 and today live in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Cindy shares his devotion to Hobart and his spirit of philanthropy. After several recent visits to his alma mater, Jim has rekindled his devotion to Hobart and appreciates the school for the superior institution that it has become.
Jim and Cindy Caird have said, “We feel so good about where Hobart and William Smith Colleges are today. We are proud of the campaign and proud to say that we helped push it past the $100 million mark.
Caird Hall’s twin residence, de Cordova Hall, was dedicated during Reunion 2006 in recognition of the outstanding service and financial support of Arthur de Cordova ’56. According to The Herald, the Hobart and William Smith student newspaper, Caird and de Cordova Halls are, “the most sought after residences on campus…. The 174-bed facilities feature individual room temperature controls, social spaces located off the central stairwells, and an exercise facility on the first floor of Caird Hall, which includes both aerobic and strength training equipment for use at any time. There is also a cafe featuring Starbucks products in the lobby of de Cordova Hall.
In the photo above, Jim '56 and Cindy Caird pose with K.C. Cassell '82 P'07 P'10 (center) at the West Florida Campaign Kickoff.