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President announces program to boost fund-raising for scholarships

by Karen A. Grava - February 9, 2009


President Michael Hogan has announced a new President’s Challenge program to raise $100 million in private funding for scholarships and graduate fellowships at UConn.

As an incentive to donors to participate in the program, Hogan said, the University will use $50 million in existing scholarship funds to provide a match for funds given to the UConn Foundation by contributors.

The program has already attracted two major donors: a parent and an alumnus.

The parent, Margaret Keane of Ridgefield, is the chief executive officer of GE Retail Consumer Finance. GE has provided her with a performance award that allows her to make a gift of $15,000 to a charity of her choice. She is also making a personal gift of $10,000 to be matched by $10,000 from the GE Foundation. This will create a $35,000 endowed scholarship. Keane is the mother of Brian Hajdarovic, a UConn sophomore studying communications science.

“My son and I have been talking a lot about how students at UConn are really struggling financially in these very difficult times,” says Keane. “I have always been a strong believer in public higher education. So when GE gave me an award that has a side benefit of providing money from the GE Foundation to a charity of my choosing, coupled with my personal donation to UConn, it was a simple decision to make.

“The President’s Challenge match provides an even greater incentive to give now,” Keane adds, “because of the additional dollars that will be available to help deserving students complete their college studies.”

The alumnus, Doug Donaldson of Manchester, Class of 1973, is vice president of Subway Development Corp. of New England. He has given $35,000 to the program.

“The matching funds from the University were the deciding factor in our decision,” says Donaldson, a member of the School of Nursing’s Advisory Board, who, with his wife, Lynn, gave the gift for nursing scholarships.

“Nursing students graduate with the highest debt load of any undergraduate major at UConn,” Donaldson says.

“With the President’s Challenge available to make our money go further, we felt now was the best time to make a gift that helps the School of Nursing, and may begin to address Connecticut’s growing shortage of nurses.”

Hogan says he is pleased to work with the UConn Foundation to put this new scholarship and fellowship fund into place, just as the need for financial aid is increasing.

“Students and their families, like everyone else, are being hit hard by the current economic challenges,” he says. “Given the important role of higher education in catalyzing economic development, we need to seek ways to protect access to UConn.”

Hogan says the donors’ generosity is appreciated.

“The gifts from both Doug and Margaret will make a real difference in the lives of several students,” he says.

“And the generous match from General Electric for Margaret’s gift takes her generosity a major step further and demonstrates that UConn, private donors, and corporate philanthropy can all work together as partners to advance the interests of the UConn students in these most challenging times.”

The President’s Challenge Fund will use existing University scholarship funds to match dollar for dollar the spending allocation of all newly established scholarship and fellowship endowments generated by private funds over the next four years.

An endowment is a permanent fund that preserves principal and uses a portion of earnings to annually support the scholarship.

The President’s Challenge Fund also matches contributions for non-endowed scholarship or fellowship funds with 50 cents for every dollar given. To qualify for the program, endowed gifts must be at least $25,000, and non-endowed gifts must be at least $10,000.

Robert McCarthy, dean of the School of Pharmacy, says, “The President’s Challenge demonstrates to prospective donors, alumni, and other friends that the University stands ready to partner with them by matching private donations that enable us to fulfill our academic mission. The University can’t meet its mission without private support. When that support is matched by an investment on our part, we are able to make a significant commitment to assisting our students.”

The cost of attending UConn for an in-state residential undergraduate is $18,638 annually for tuition, fees, room, and board. The cost of graduate education at UConn is $19,500.

M. Dolan Evanovich, vice president for enrollment planning, management, and institutional research, says, “With the demand for financial aid exceeding the supply of available support, and with challenging economic times looming, the need for private sources of student support will continue to grow. It is critically important to maintain strong university scholarship and fellowship opportunities, and that is the impetus for this program.”

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