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Santander, BU Team Up for Global and Local Education

Gift to fund SPH scholarships, Spanish theater in Boston-area schools


Sovereign Bank President and CEO Gabriel Jaramillo (from left), BU President Robert A. Brown, and Banco Santander Chairman Emilio Botin sign the agreement. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Teaching local high schoolers the beauties of Spanish-language theater and scholarships for graduate students going abroad: these will be the major benefits of a gift to BU from Sovereign Bank and Santander Universities, the education arm of Sovereign’s parent company.

Half of the gift will pay for the scholarships, offered through the School of Public Health’s international health department, and half to the high school initiative the Hispanic Voices Program. Both will be financed for three years.

The scholarships will be awarded to as many as 10 low-to-moderate-income students; up to 10 students from Latin American countries; and up to 25 students participating in BU’s Kenya field practice program, which sends participants to Kenya for five weeks of data collecting, analysis, and presentation on the health and sanitation problems of the Maasai people.

The Hispanic Voices Program will be an undergraduate community-service course targeted to high schools with heavy Hispanic populations. It will be coordinated by the College of Arts & Sciences romance studies department, which already sends student volunteers to Roxbury to teach Spanish to local residents.

Sovereign’s gift will also fund the renovation of BU’s Spanish House, a student residence for those majoring or minoring in Spanish, and support the romance studies department’s cultural events and the Roxbury instruction.

“We are grateful to Sovereign Bank and Banco Santander for the generous support for two very promising initiatives,” says BU President Robert A. Brown. “They are making it possible for us to provide scholarship support for students who will do their field practice overseas. And this support is enabling our outreach to the Latino community in the greater Boston area through language and culture programs.” Banco Santander is Sovereign’s Spain-based parent company.

Emilio Botin, chairman of Banco Santander, says the scholarships “further advance higher education and international collaboration—components that are crucial to Santander Universities and its mission,” while the high school theater program “connects students with the greater Boston community by strengthening Spanish culture and ties.”

Jonathon Simon, an SPH international health professor and director of the Center for Global Health and Development, says training and living costs for students overseas “present a real stumbling block” for those of modest means, and Sovereign’s gift will ensure participation for some who otherwise might not be able to go.

“International field practicum experiences are a fundamentally important part of learning and skill-building for students who are preparing for public health careers in global health,” he says.

Sovereign has more than 700 branches and operates mostly in the Northeast. Its parent is a 153-year-old international bank with more branches worldwide than any other (14,000) and 92 million customers in Spain, Latin America, and Europe.

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.


One Comment on Santander, BU Team Up for Global and Local Education

  • bernard scharfstein on 11.26.2014 at 2:41 pm

    i am a Banco shareholder.Have these benevolent actions by the the bank increased the number of depositors and deposits?

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