Dr. Berger Keatts
honors his favorite professor with gift to WSU CVM
Dr. Berger Keatts, DVM (’50) and retired farmer, decided to support
his alma mater in attracting a renowned instructor and researcher when
he established the “Berger Keatts Distinguished Professorship” in the
College of Veterinary Medicine. His gift is advancing research efforts
and continuing the legacy of instructional excellence that places
Washington State University
Dr. Keatts was inspired to create the “Distinguished Professorship” in
honor of the man who gave him the desire to become a veterinarian more
than 50 years ago. The inspiration for Dr. Keatts’ gift came from his
wish to honor the memory of Dr. John McCoy, former dean of the WSU
College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. McCoy had a tremendous influence on
Dr. Keatts’ career choice, stemming from an experience that occurred
when he was just 10 years old. Dr. Keatts and his father traveled from
their farm near Pomeroy to Pullman to seek treatment for a horse that
had fallen ill. Dr. McCoy was the veterinarian who treated the horse,
and the young Keatts was so impressed with the veterinarian that he told
his father he wanted to be just like Dr. McCoy when he grew up. Dr.
Keatts said Dr. McCoy was an articulate and thorough instructor whose
diagnostic skills were unparalleled as he recalled how Dr. McCoy often
astonished students with an acute ability to “practically see right into
Dr. Keatts careful gift planning includes the following elements:
- First, he established a Charitable Remainder Annuity
Trust that paid him a fixed income until his death and provided him
with an immediate income tax charitable deduction. At his death, the
remaining trust assets were passed to the WSU Foundation to fund the
professorship he believes is so critical to veterinary education.
- Next, Dr. Keatts changed the beneficiary designation
on his Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to the WSU Foundation.
The proceeds from the IRA also flowed into the professorship at his
death. As a charitable organization, the WSU Foundation did not have
to pay the deferred income tax on this account and realized
additional savings dedicated to Dr. Keatts intent.
- Dr. Keatts also provided an additional contribution
to bring the professorship up to a predetermined level should the
trust and IRA fail to do so. Together these elements ensured that
his wishes were carried out regardless of market fluctuations.
- Finally, Gift Planning staff worked with Dr. Keatts,
his attorney, and the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine to create
an agreement setting the criteria for the distinguished
professorship. This provided Dr. Keatts with an extraordinary
opportunity to provide direct input into the role and
responsibilities his professorship assumed.
Like most veterinarians, Dr. Keatts was humble about his gift. Still
he realized that it serves as an example and makes others think about
what they can or might want to do for WSU. He said he was following his
mother’s advice to “give your money away now so you can see it at work.”