Institutional Advancement - Spring 2013

Benson Foundation gifts $5 million to Loyola to provide student scholarships

By Meredith Hartley, Director of Public Affairs and External Relations

Students with financial need at Loyola will soon have more scholarship dollars available to them thanks to the philanthropy of Tom, H’87, and Gayle Benson. The Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation recently pledged $5 million in financial aid to the university to be used for scholarship support for academically talented students with demonstrated financial need.

The $5 million gift will be distributed over five years and is divided into two parts—$4 million to establish the Tom and Gayle Benson Endowed Scholarship Fund and $1 million for support of immediate-use scholarships. The Benson Endowed Scholarship Fund will be invested and utilized to support Loyola sophomore or higher grade students who have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and who are in financial need.

“One of our goals, as a Jesuit university, is to make a Loyola education accessible to all talented and hardworking students. This gift helps us educate students who have financial need and who would not be able to attend Loyola without the support of generous benefactors like the Bensons,” said Loyola President Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D.

Tom Benson’s history with Loyola goes back to his days on campus in 1944 when he enrolled as a student. Since that time, Benson has risen to become one of New Orleans’ most successful businessmen, amassing wealth through ownership of several automobile dealerships and small banks, not to mention his purchase of the New Orleans Saints in 1985. His and his wife’s devotion to the Catholic Church and commitment to Catholic education have made them one of Loyola’s staunchest supporters.

“Gayle and I are proud to make this gift available to Loyola University. It speaks to the dedication of this great university to prepare students for life ahead, not only through the classroom, but also through their Catholic faith and community service,” said Benson. “Loyola University has always held a special place in my heart, and providing a gift that will be used for scholarships for needy students will be one that Gayle and I can look on and know with confidence will make a positive difference in someone’s life.”

Benson, who received an honorary degree from Loyola in 1987, has been a long-time benefactor of the university. Since Hurricane Katrina, he has pledged more than $15 million to Loyola. He gifted $8 million in 2011 toward the establishment of the Tom Benson Jesuit Center. In 2007, Benson also contributed $2 million to create the Jesuit Social Research Institute, a collaboration of the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus and Loyola University that promotes research, social analysis, and practical strategies for improving the social and economic conditions in the southern U.S., focusing on issues of race, poverty, and migration. In 1999, Benson helped fund the first phase of construction of the Gregory R. Choppin Chemistry Wing in Monroe Hall, which was completed in fall 2008.

In 2010, the university awarded Benson its highest honor—the Integritas Vitae Award—for his continued support and for exemplifying the qualities Loyola seeks to instill in its students.

The Taylor Foundation’s pledge for scholarships

The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation recently pledged $1.26 million in scholarship support to Loyola University New Orleans for academically talented, first-generation college students who reside in Louisiana and demonstrate financial need. The Foundation’s grant will provide seven $15,000 scholarships per year over the next 12 years for deserving students. The first seven scholarships will be awarded in August 2013.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer scholarship assistance to Loyola University New Orleans. This outstanding educational institution with its 100 years of experience has much to offer its students. These scholarships will significantly benefit Louisiana students who are the very first in their family to have an opportunity to attend a university. It will also assist in helping to provide an educated work force to face the needs of tomorrow,” said Phyllis M. Taylor, president and chairwoman of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation.

“In the face of rising tuition costs nationwide, Loyola has renewed its commitment to increasing need-based scholarships, and private donor support such as this generous gift from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation enables us to enroll the best students regardless of their economic standing,” said Loyola President Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D.

View the complete spring 2013 issue of LOYNO.

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