Al and Barrie Zesiger, in whose honor the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center
is named, are generous and active benefactors of MIT. Their extraordinary
philanthropic support of MIT athletics reflects a deeply held commitment
to lifetime health and fitness. Mr. Zesiger, for example, has run 17
marathons, climbed a number of major peaks-including Mount Rainer, Mount
Washington, and Mount Kilamanjaro-and is a dedicated open water long-distance
swimmer. The couple has swum together from Alcatraz to San Francisco,
and from San Francisco to Marin County under the Golden Gate Bridge.
The two have given expression to their commitment not only to MIT but
also in New York City. There, a major athletic facility known as Asphalt
Green, which includes the only public Olympic-standard swimming pool
in the city, was constructed largely thanks to their leadership and philanthropy.
The Zesigers have been generous with their time and leadership skills as
well as their resources. Barrie Zesiger is a member of the MIT Corporation
and was recently named to the Corporation’s Executive Committee. She
also chairs the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Visiting Committee and
is a member of the Dean for Undergraduate Education Visiting Committee. Mr. Zesiger
is a member of the Corporation Development Committee, Athletics Visiting
Committee, and the National Business Committee.
Al Zesiger is a 1951 graduate of the Institute, where he majored in civil
engineering and was in both sports and musical groups. After earning
an MBA from Harvard Business School, he worked in manufacturing and later
in investments for a series of firms, including General Tire and
the Anchor Group of Mutual Funds, and Lazard Freres. He founded his
first company, BEA Associates, in 1968, and, after its sale to Credit Suisse,
launched his current firm, Zesiger Capitol Group LLC, in 1995.
Barrie Zesiger holds a doctor of law degree from Stanford University. After receiving her J.D., she served as a securities analyst with the Madison Fund. She also was a lawyer in private practice from1974 to 1984, specializing in land-use law, which included the drafting of the California Coastal Act for the state legislature. While devoting much of her time since then to leading philanthropic ventures, she also is a managing director in Zesiger Capitol Group LLC.
The Zesigers’ giving to MIT is not restricted to Athletics. Mr. Zesiger,
for example, created an endowment for fellowships in economics, Mrs.
Zesiger has supported the MIT Council for Economics, and the two
have made joint contributions to such entities as the World Economy Laboratory at
MIT. Their giving reflects both a philanthropic spirit and a deep
dedication to the Institute. Mr. Zesiger has remarked that he sees
his giving as the repayment of a debt. “When I went to MIT, the world opened up,” he
says. “I’ve done well in business, and I wanted to give something back.”