Campus & Community

Margot Gilbert Frank receives highest alumni honor at Founders Day

“I don’t think one should be pigeonholed,” says Evans Award winner Margot Gilbert Frank. “If you have a wide variety of interests, they should be encouraged.” Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Margot Gilbert Frank (BA ’71) has done so much for the University of Denver that it would be easy to imagine that she does nothing else. And yet her professional and community activities have touched so many that it’s a bit staggering to read her resumé.

For her tireless work at DU and beyond, Frank received the Evans Award, the University’s highest alumni honor, at the March 7 Founders Day ceremony.

Frank candidly admits that she grew up in New York City in a privileged household but adds, “I was raised not to know it. There was never a question that I would work.”

After graduating from DU with a degree in history and a minor in political science, Frank came back to the University for a teaching certificate. She taught at-risk students for Colorado Youth Services for three years then taught for 24 years in the Jefferson County Schools.

While teaching full time, she also was volunteering for organizations including the Junior League of Denver, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts — where she currently is on the board of trustees — and the Mizel Museum. Additionally, she ran her family’s New York land lease business for 11 years, selling it in 2010.

While Frank says she always stayed informed on activities at her alma mater, it was in 1999 when her interests and efforts really “took off.”

“What really clicked for me was when I got involved with the Newman campaign,” she says.

The Newman Center for the Performing Arts was one focus of the University’s capital campaign at the time, and very quickly, Frank found herself involved in raising funds for the new building.

Unlike donors who find one school or program to support, Margot and her husband, Allan Frank (JD ’67), became passionate supporters of many DU programs. They established the John J. Gilbert Accountancy Chair and scholarships to benefit students in the Daniels College of Business and the Morgridge College of Education.

“We are global in how we approach DU,” she says. “We give to five schools. I don’t think one should be pigeonholed. If you have a wide variety of interests, they should be encouraged.”

Margot has served on the University of Denver Board of Trustees since 2000. She also has endowed a chair in her father’s name; mentored the Recent Graduate Alumni Group; helped manage the campaign for the Morgridge College of Education; helped to recruit key administrative professionals to the University; overseen the University Advancement Committee and the successful ASCEND Campaign; and helped create the Korbel Dinner at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

Allan and Margot remind themselves every day how blessed they are. Sharing their good fortune and giving back to the community is a must for them. Margot believes that service and philanthropy are part of her DNA. “The rewards of being generous and philanthropic come with great responsibility,” she says.

“One of the most gratifying experiences of my life has been interacting with all the exceptional individuals affiliated with the DU community,” she says. “It is important to remember that it is people that make an institution great.”

–Janalee Card Chmel

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