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Love for travel, Oxford College inspires couple’s philanthropic legacy
kathy and warren standing together

Kathy and Warren Brook, who created the Brook International Travel Endowment to support study abroad and travel courses for Oxford College students, have named Oxford as the sole beneficiary of their estate.

Kathy and Warren Brook are passionate about two things: international travel and Oxford College. For many years they’ve helped Oxford students participate in study abroad or travel courses through their Brook International Travel Endowment (BITE). Inspired by the 2O36 campaign, they’ve made an additional commitment to Oxford, naming it the sole beneficiary of their estate.

“What we do today will help determine what happens in the future, which is why 2O36 is so important,” says Warren Brook, who graduated from Oxford College in 1970 and Emory’s business school in 1972.

“And we’ve been impressed with President Greg Fenves and Provost Ravi Bellamkonda,” Kathy Brook notes. “They are great people and so approachable.”

Service leads to philanthropy

Warren Brook developed an abiding love for the culture of Oxford and established lifelong friendships there but was an admittedly lackluster student. “I was the first in my family to go to college, but I didn’t have anybody pushing me to do well in school,” he says. “I did just enough to get by. Now I mentor Oxford students, and I tell them not to do what I did.”

His commitment to Oxford began long after he’d completed his studies, and it began with service. He had been organizing unofficial reunions for his Oxford pals but started planning them officially when he joined the Oxford College Alumni Board. Board service allowed him to learn more about how Oxford operates, the role that faculty members play, and what it takes to provide excellent academic experiences for students.

“I became more active and involved with Oxford, and I began making minor financial contributions,” he recalls. “I was already giving a lot of my time.” 

His service and philanthropic commitments grew together. “The longer I was on the Oxford Alumni Board, the more I wanted to give financially,” he says. After 20 years on the board, he joined the Emory Alumni Board, which he served for six years. He is currently a member of the Oxford College Board of Counselors.

Although neither an Oxford nor Emory graduate, Kathy Brook is equally involved in volunteering, and she attends reunions and other special days at the college. In honor of her service to Oxford, she was named an honorary alumna in 2016. 

Travel as education

The Brooks’ love for international travel dovetails with Oxford’s emphasis on experiential learning. “Kathy and I believe that international travel is as important — or more so — than academic studies,” Warren Brook says. “Traveling to another country requires you to deal with different languages, geography, culture, food — everything. You have to adapt, and the experience pushes you to be a better person.”

The Brooks, who both came to travel as adults and after college, understand the divide that separates students with financial means and those without. “I grew up in a single-parent home, and there was no money for travel,” Warren Brook explains. His first international trip, a winter break vacation to Europe with work colleagues, “was transformational.” 

Kathy Brook had a similar experience. “The University of Kentucky didn’t offer international travel programs then, so I didn’t start traveling until I graduated and moved to Atlanta.” Her first forays abroad included a cruise of the Greek islands and a trip to Central and South America with a friend. “Then I met Warren, and we started traveling together,” she says. “When we were planning our wedding, which we funded, we chose an international trip over a big ceremony. It seems to have worked because we are still married, 44 years later.” They take four international trips per year.

An endowment lasts forever

Fun-loving and irreverent, the Brooks are serious about making their time and financial support count. Their travel endowment’s acronym, BITE, was no accident. He wears a button with the slogan, “Ask me about BITE” to university functions. “I worked in sales for years, and I understand the power of a catchy name,” he says. She wants to add a logo featuring a globe with a bite taken from it.

They welcome additional gifts from other alumni to grow the endowment, which the Brooks have funded through IRA distributions directed to Oxford College. But they also understand that giving is personal, and they encourage others to give as they are able to the area of their choice. “There are so many ways to give painlessly, and philanthropy can be fine-tuned to a donor’s specific interests,” he says. “An endowment lasts forever, and it can be a great legacy.” 

The Brooks are working with Oxford Dean Badia Ahad to identify areas where their bequest can have the most impact. “We are considering an endowed scholarship, several scholarships, an endowed professorship, or a fund to maintain historic buildings,” Warren Brook says. “Really, we just want the money to go where it is most needed.”

To inquire about making a gift to support scholarships, contact Kevin Smyrl, associate dean for advancement and alumni engagement, Oxford College of Emory University, at 770-784-4637 or To learn more about the many planned giving strategies available at Emory, contact the Emory Office of Gift Planning at 404-727-8875 or .

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