University of Louisville faculty and staff played a significant role in the success of the Charting Our Course comprehensive campaign, contributing more than $27 million to the billion-dollar effort. (See Keith Inman’s letter to the campus community.) This is the sixth and last in our series of profiles of UofL faculty and staff, the areas they support and their reasons for giving back to the university.

John I.  “Hans” Gilderbloom, PhD

Dr. John I. “Hans” Gilderbloom, who has been with UofL for 27 years, is a professor of urban planning in the Department of Urban and Public Affairs. He is also director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods. His $2 million donation, to both the department and the center, is in memory of his son, Max Gilderbloom, a UofL student majoring in social work who died tragically. The donation was targeted from local real estate investments to support graduate students who are working on research to help cities become healthier, prosperous, equitable and just. The money will be used for graduate research assistants in the department, a speaker series and, hopefully, to endow a chair of sustainable planning.

Reasons for giving to this program:  Max loved the research I was doing on how the urban environment can shorten lifespans. Using state-of-the-art statistical procedures, I was able to identify the environmental causes of premature deaths in Louisville and this research is now being published in top scientific journals. Doing this research helps to take the pain out of my loss and gives me hope that other dads and moms will not have to feel the everyday pain of losing a child from cancer, suicide, homicide or a car accident.

Why you feel it’s important to give back to the university: Giving back to the university is a beautiful way to honor my son. Max will live on through my research that improves the lives of others. Doing such meaningful and rewarding work fulfills my heart and soul. I am lucky and honored to have a position that can help change, improve and safeguard human life. It gives me great satisfaction to see that my donation has already been matched with $2.25 million and eventually we hope to raise $10 million. My goal is to reach out to everyone concerned with the tragedy of shortened lives due to environmental toxins. Every contribution matters.