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Anonymous Donor Writes $625,000 Check

Outstanding Scholars Fund established at the School of Public Health


Robert Meenan, dean of the School of Public Health, says applications have been on the rise. Photo by Frank Curran

Thanks to an anonymous $625,000 gift, the University’s School of Public Health has established a scholarship fund for master’s degree candidates who rank in the top 10 percent of their incoming class.

The gift will be combined with a matching grant from the Leventhal Challenge, established by Alan and Sherry Leventhal, who pledged $10 million last year to motivate parallel gifts for student financial aid and professorships. The matching grant will bring the SPH scholarship to more than $1 million when fully funded.

“Scholarships are one of the highest priorities of the school’s current fundraising campaign, and this donation is an important step in creating an endowment that supports academically competitive students regardless of their economic background,” says Mark Prashker, associate dean of institutional development and strategic planning.

Alan Leventhal (Hon.’09), a member of BU’s Board of Trustees since 1995 and chair from 2003 to 2008, is the founder and CEO of Beacon Capital Partners, a Boston-based real estate investment firm. Sherry Leventhal serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the BU School of Medicine.

“We hope it will be a real igniter for people to make substantive gifts to the school,” says Robert Meenan (MED’72, GSM’89), dean of the School of Public Health. “We’re pretty excited both for its practical value and psychological impact.”

Meenan plans to award the first scholarships next September. He expects plenty of worthy candidates, from this country and around the world. “There’s been remarkable growth in public health both among graduates and, increasingly, among undergraduates,” he says. “Applications are up nationwide and for our school.”

Last year, the school received about 1,500 applications, he says, and 280 were admitted. This year, the incoming SPH class will jump to 325.

While applications to graduate school tend to rise in bad economies, Meenan believes the spike in interest cannot be attributed solely to the recession.

“Public health is a fascinating discipline for the 21st century,” he says. “It combines numerical skills like epidemiology and statistics. There are policy, legal, and sociological aspects, and it has a very substantial global element, which students find particularly appealing.

“There’s also been a generational shift. As opposed to the 1980s, when it was, ‘Go to Wall Street,’ students are once again increasingly asking, ‘Where can I make a difference, and how does public service work for me?’ Obama’s probably had an impact, too.”

The $625,000 philanthropist has requested to remain anonymous.

“We’re just thrilled with the purpose for which the donor directed this gift,” adds Meenan. “I wish I could trumpet the donor and give that person acknowledgement and congrats.”

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at cdanilof@bu.edu.


2 Comments on Anonymous Donor Writes $625,000 Check

  • Anonymous on 01.13.2010 at 9:07 am

    Just glad to see that not every donation made to the university doesn’t serve as an arrogant publicity stunt like the one we saw last year.

  • Anonymous on 01.13.2010 at 10:37 am


    My thanks to the donor- Hopefully, the gift will be used as humbly as the giver has given.

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