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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Receives Largest Private Gift Ever

Of all the colleges and universities in Boston, UMass Boston is the one that seems to get overlooked the most when it comes to large monetary gifts. With big-name private colleges like Boston University getting a $42 million grant from NASA in 2006, Boston College receiving a $15 million boost from the Yawkey Foundation to build a new sports facility, and even another public institute, UMass Amherst, getting $16 million from the National Science Foundation, it’s hard not to be envious. But this new year UMB students have something to celebrate, because UMass Boston has just received $2.1 million, by far its largest private gift ever.

This generous donation to public education, which is in two $1 million parts, came from the Bernard Osher Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization founded in 1977. According to its mission statement, the Osher Foundation “seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.” The Bernard Osher Foundation serves over 100 schools with its plethora of programs mostly aimed at local and adult education and post-secondary scholarship funding.

UMass Boston, traditionally a low-cost institution with a focus on accessibility and dedicated to the education of those young and old alike, will use $1 million of the gift to create the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. According to UMB, the Bernard Osher Institute will offer up to 70 noncredit courses to people 50 years and older. Another $1 million will go to the creation of the Re-entry Scholarship Program, which will offer 10 scholarships a year of up to $5,000. The scholarships will go to students between the ages of 25 and 50 who are pursuing their first undergraduate college degree and who are resuming their education after an interruption of at least five years. The last $100,000 will go towards current programs and operation at UMass Boston. Additionally, the Massachusetts Public Higher Education Endowment Incentive Program, a public organization involved with fund-matching for private donations to public schools and colleges, will half-match the gift with $500,000 in public funds for both the Bernard Osher Institute and the Re-entry Scholarship Program.

According to the Vice Chancellor for University Advancement, Darrell C. Byers, the gift was a “collaborative effort by several UMass Boston campus community members coming together over several years.” Vice Chacellor Byers praised the “great work of OLLI director Wichian Rojanawon and Vice Chancellor of enrollment Kathy Teehan (who) really lead this effort…(They’ve)…done great work over several years keeping the foundation informed of (UMB’s) accomplishments (in the area of continued education).”