IAS Mourns Passing of Martin Chooljian, Trustee Emeritus and Longtime Friend

Martin Chooljian, Trustee Emeritus, longtime Friend of the Institute, beloved personal friend to many in the community, and one of the Institute’s most generous benefactors, passed away this week at the age of 90.

Elected to the Institute’s Board of Trustees in 1997, Chooljian served with distinction for thirteen years in this role and subsequently as a Trustee Emeritus. He made significant contributions to the growth and governance of the Institute, having served on the Audit, Finance, Academic Affairs, Buildings and Grounds, and Development and Public Affairs Committees. 

He and his late wife Helen joined the Friends of the Institute in 1992, and went on to become two of the group’s most passionate advocates and supporters. As inaugural members of the Founders’ Circle, the association’s highest level of giving, the Chooljians set a model for philanthropy. In recognition of his service and remarkable generosity, he was named an honorary lifetime member of the Friends Executive Committee in 2016.     

“Marty gave true meaning to the word friend,” stated Robbert Dijkgraaf, IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor. “Beyond his extraordinary leadership as a donor with the Friends, Marty always answered the call to provide funding for critical needs and special initiatives as they arose.”

Having endowed two Memberships in the School of Natural Sciences, one in particle physics and another in theoretical biology, Martin took great pleasure and pride in meeting the “Chooljian Members” each year. As founding co-Chair of the Institute’s Legacy Society, Chooljian led by example.

In May 2010, the Institute’s Board of Trustees adopted a resolution recognizing Chooljian’s work to “fortify the Institute’s mission, broaden its reach, and strengthen its sources of unrestricted income.” The Board further recognized Chooljian, a “beloved member of the Institute community,” for his “outstanding efforts to support the curiosity-driven research that produces advances in knowledge.”

Chooljian was president and director of CH Capital Corporation, which he formed in the 1980s. He received both his B.S. and M.B.A. degrees from Harvard University in 1952 and 1954, respectively. He served for two years as a Procurement Officer in the United States Air Force, HQ Air Material Command with the rank of First Lieutenant from 1955 to 1957. From 1958 to 1964 he was treasurer of Litton Industries and from 1963 to 1985 served as president, director, and founding stockholder of PENN Corporation.

Beyond their support of the Institute, the Chooljians were champions of the local community and the arts. Martin served as trustee and treasurer of McCarter Theater from 1987 to 1994. Given their longtime support of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, the organization announced in 2018 that its new building would be named in Helen’s honor.


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