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September 12, 1996

Contributor matches funds for scholarship program at Bradford

Pitt's Bradford campus (UPB) has been offered $375,000 for a new matching-funds student scholarship program.

Under the offer, which was made by an anonymous donor, UPB's 1996 Student Scholarship Challenge will match dollar-for-dollar, up to $375,000, each new dollar raised for scholarships on the campus from now until Dec. 31.

The scholarship challenge is similar to UPB's recent Blaisdell Fine Arts Center Challenge that raised money for a proposed fine arts center on the campus.

"The 1996 Student Scholarship Challenge is an opportunity for us to continue the enhancement of scholarship opportunities for our students, which was a primary goal of Campaign 2000," said UPB President Richard McDowell.

Campaign 2000, which ended in January, was a fund drive geared to prepare UPB for the 21st century. The original goal of the drive was $8 million. UPB eventually ended up receiving contributions in excess of $10 million.

With government support for higher education declining, McDowell said that donations of scholarship money are essential if a university is to attract the best students and provide financial aid to those in need.

"If Pitt-Bradford is to remain competitive, to continue to serve the region economically and educationally, it must increase the amount and number of scholarships," McDowell said.

The minimum for establishing an endowed scholarship at the Bradford campus is $10,000. During the scholarship challenge, however, a donor can establish a scholarship in his or her name, or in the name of another individual or organization, with a minimum gift of $5,000. Matching funds from the challenge will provide the additional $5,000 needed to establish the scholarship.

Gifts made to an already-existing scholarship also will be matched with additional money and the donor will be recognized for making a gift of double the amount.

Among the people who already have taken advantage of the challenge is James O'Mara, a member of UPB's Advisory Board who in April, at age 52, obtained a Bachelor of Arts in human relations from Pitt's Bradford campus. In memory of his parents, O'Mara established the James W. and Mary K. O'Mara Scholarship, which will specifically benefit non-traditional students, such as himself, with a preference given to single parents.

"When I was in class, I was touched by the struggle these single parents are going through to get through school," O'Mara said. "They had their hands full. I wanted to do something to help them." O'Mara also said he thought the scholarship was the perfect way to honor his parents since education had always been important to them. O'Mara himself is a former president of the Bradford Area School Board.

For his parents' scholarship, O'Mara contributed $5,000. The challenge grant automatically turned that $5,000 into $10,000. An additional $4,400 also was contributed by other members of the O'Mara family and by Crosby Mini Marts, bringing the total value of the scholarship to $14,400.

Unlike the fine arts challenge, where donations went only for the fine arts center, student scholarship challenge funds can be unrestricted or directed into a specific area. Only matching funds must be targeted specifically for scholarships.

Both cash gifts and pledges made payable within five years are eligible to be matched by money from the student scholarship challenge drive.

–Mike Sajna

Filed under: Feature,Volume 29 Issue 2

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