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Record Gifts Received By Boston College, University Of Massachusetts, And Montana State University

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at September 3, 2021

Three universities received the largest private donations in their respective histories this past week. The record levels of philanthropy were reported at Boston College, the University of Massachusetts System and Montana State University.

Boston College

Boston College received a gift estimated at $75 million from the estate of Joyce L. and E. Paul Robsham. Mr. Robsham, a real estate developer, was an alum of Boston College. Joyce was a leading owner of thoroughbred horses. In its announcement, the institution claimed it was the largest estate gift in its history.

The gift establishes new undergraduate scholarships for students in the performing arts, as well as graduate fellowships for those pursuing counseling or school psychology. Combined with prior donations from the couple, nearly 25 Boston College students will be supported on scholarships funded by the Robshams each year.

The Robshams’ gift will also fund programming enhancements in psychology and theater as well as provide support for ongoing operations, repair, and upkeep of the Robsham Theater, named in honor of the couple’s son, E. Paul Robsham, Jr.

In addition, the gift will fund undergraduate and graduate training programs in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development. For undergraduates, it will help expand the practicum component of the applied psychology and human development program. For graduate students, a 60-credit program will be created to train them to serve as mental health counselors in urban settings.

Montana State Univeristy

Montana State University announced that it had received a gift of $101 million from Mark and Robyn Jones, founders of Goosehead Insurance Inc.

“Today is a day of new beginnings at Montana State University,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado, in the university’s news release. “… Every day of our existence we have taken to heart our mission: we are here to educate the sons and daughters of the working families of Montana. For the last 128 years – challenges and obstacles notwithstanding – Montana State University has helped people find a path to a better, more prosperous life, to deepen their involvement in our communities and our democracy, and to lead happier and healthier lives.

The gift, which was not only the largest in the history of the university but also apparently the largest ever given to a college of nursing, will:

  • Provide funding for new facilities at each of the MSU College of Nursing’s five campuses in Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula.
  • Establish five endowed faculty professorships — the first in the history of the MSU College of Nursing.
  • Develop an endowed scholarship fund.
  • Create Montana’s only certified nurse midwifery program.

University of Massachusetts

On Wednesday the University of Massachusetts System announced it had received a $50 million donation, the largest gift of any kind in system history.

The gift from Robert J. and Donna Manning will be divided among the system’s five campuses. At the University of Massachusetts-Boston, $15 million will be dedicated to endowing the nursing program, which will be renamed the Robert and Donna Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

In the coming months, the Mannings plan to announce how distributions from the overall gift will be used at the other UMass campuses in Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester. 

“The significance of this gift cannot be overstated,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “Rob and Donna are two of our own. As first-generation college graduates, they experienced the transformational impact UMass has on students’ lives. Rob and Donna have always led by example in their philanthropy, and this remarkable gift is a call to action to the philanthropic community. It says that UMass is a good investment and an opportunity to have direct and immediate impact on the future of the Commonwealth. On behalf of the five campuses, we thank the Mannings for their incredible generosity and commitment to students.” 

Both Mannings graduated from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell, with Robert earning a degree in information systems management in 1984 and Donna receiving a nursing degree in 1985 and a masters in business administration in 1991. Both received an honorary doctor of humane letters from the university in 2011.

Robert Manning is the chair of MFS Investment Management, a position from which he plans to retire this year. Donna Manning worked for many years as an oncology nurse at Boston Medical Center. She retired in 2018.

This was not the first major gift by the Mannings to the university. The UMass Lowell, has named he Manning School of Business after them. They have also endowed several faculty chairs, sponsored a nursing simulation lab, and established the Robert and Donna Manning Endowed Scholarship Fund. The Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to faculty on all five UMass campuses for high-impact teaching


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