Non-traditional students looking to earn a college degree at West Virginia University will have the opportunity to receive scholarship support thanks to a $1 million endowed grant from The Bernard Osher Foundation.

The Osher Reentry Scholarship Program is for individuals who have experienced an interruption in their education of five or more years and want to resume their education at the undergraduate level. The endowment provides a permanent funding source for a scholarship program that The Osher Foundation has supported at WVU with $50,000 annual grants for the past three years.

“This scholarship fund will be a blessing to many of our students who had to leave college early because of financial reasons or life interruptions,” said WVU President Gordon Gee. “Thanks so much to the Osher Foundation for helping to make a college degree attainable again for many former students.”

The endowment will fund a minimum of 10 scholarships annually each valued at $5,000, which can be used solely for tuition and fees. It is intended to benefit students who have considerable years of employability ahead of them. The WVU Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs will administer the program.

“It’s truly remarkable for WVU to receive such an endowment that will enable adult learners to return to this University to pursue their dream,” said Elizabeth Dooley, associate provost for undergraduate academic affairs at WVU. “It is special that we have a scholarship category established just for the returning student.”

The Bernard Osher Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader. The Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. Through post-secondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities across the nation, the Foundation focuses special attention on reentry students, typically aged 25-50.

“The Foundation wishes to lighten the financial burden of students pursuing a degree while managing other obligations such as work and family concerns,” said Mary Bitterman, president of the Osher Foundation. “We are pleased that West Virginia University will now have an opportunity to augment its services for these dedicated students with Osher scholarships on a permanent basis.”

WVU student Arik Garry was awarded an Osher scholarship in 2012. In a thank you letter to the Osher Foundation trustees, he said, “There was no way I’d be able to afford tuition with my current status. Determined to not give up on my dream of attending college, I held out hope that something would come along that would make my dream a reality. This hope was realized when I was told the Osher Foundation would help someone like me, out of school for a while, looking to set things right.”

This is the second endowment established by the Osher Foundation at WVU. In 2010, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute was endowed in the School of Medicine as part of a growing national program to provide the adult population over age 50 with continuing education opportunities in a variety of subject areas.

The endowment will be managed and invested by the WVU Foundation, the independent fundraising arm of the University. It will count in the Foundation’s current A State of Minds comprehensive $750 million campaign for the University that runs through December 2015.



CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.