Repaying the favor

Al and Bobbie KnottAt CU, Al ('55) and Bobbie Knott found a lifetime partnership, and a lifetime passion for engineering.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering in 1955 from CU Boulder and advanced degrees from Berkeley and Stanford, Al specialized in "the Sherlock Holmes work of engineering"—testing and failure analysis. His firm, Knott Laboratories, Inc., became a key player in forensic engineering and accident-reconstruction animation, garnering headlines for work on high-profile cases around the country.

"I've received a lot of scholarships over the years," Al, who passed away in 2013, said. "I've always felt an obligation to return the money I've been given."

The Knotts wanted their contribution to fund student scholarships. But they also wanted to maintain the resources they needed for their retirement. With the lifetime quarterly payments they receive from their charitable remainder unitrust, Al said, he could "guarantee that my wife was taken care of" after his passing. Eventually the trust, whose funds are managed by noted planned-giving firm TIAA Kaspick, will benefit students at both the CU Boulder and CU Denver campuses.

"We who have gone through CU have received a lot more than we've given," Al said. "My goal was to give back 10 times as much as I ever got. And we've made that goal."