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February 16, 2011

Gift raises scholarship commitment to $25 million

Scholarship commitment for exceptional students in financial need is increased to $25 million, representing the largest contribution to scholarships in University history

Burgett congratulates student

Handler Scholar Amy Roth ’11 talks with Paul Burgett, University vice president and general secretary, after the announcement of Rich and Martha Handler’s $20 million scholarship commitment. Roth, a psychology major who plans to attend nursing school, says the scholarship has allowed her “the freedom to find what I’m passionate about.”

University trustee Rich Handler ’83 and his wife, Martha, have announced their intention to make a gift of $20 million that will raise their total giving to $25 million—the largest commitment to student scholarship in University history. The additional gift will provide substantial support to the Alan and Jane Handler Scholarship Fund. The fund was established in 2007 by the Handlers with a grant totaling $5 million and is named in honor of Rich’s parents.

Student recipients are selected on the basis of outstanding scholarship potential, financial need because of underprivileged backgrounds, and outstanding potential to be future leaders. Each student receives a scholarship that covers all University expenses, including tuition and fees, room, board, and books. Handler Scholars receive awards annually throughout their undergraduate years at the University, as long as they demonstrate adequate academic performance.

“Martha and I increased our scholarship program to $25 million because we were so pleased that the University of Rochester did such an excellent job of selecting amazing students, who through no fault of their own are truly in need,” Rich Handler says.

“There is never a perfect or easy time to make a significant charitable gift, but the University has embraced our passion to help extremely qualified future leaders who have already overcome huge odds. These young men and women just need a little help before they set out to make the world a better place. We are honored to be part of this process and look forward to participating in this significantly expanded program,” he adds.

Each year, the College will designate one of the scholarships in honor of Jeffrey Bordeaux Jr.

“Jeffrey Bordeaux was an example of the incredible potential that talented young men and women of modest means often possess, if given a chance to succeed,” Handler says.

Handler, a Class of 1983 graduate, is chairman and CEO of Jefferies & Company and a University Trustee. The Handlers are members of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society.

“Rich and Martha Handler have made a truly visionary gift,” says President Joel Seligman. “Their generosity will make it possible for deserving students to attend the University for generations to come. And coming at a time when families are still feeling the effects of the financial downturn, this significant augmentation of their original commitment is especially timely. We are profoundly grateful.”

The Handlers’ $25 million fund is the largest dedicated to scholarships in the University’s history. Ten Rochester undergraduates—seven from the College and three from the Eastman School—have benefited from the Handler Fund since its inception in 2007.

“This gift is especially meaningful for the Eastman students who are designated as Handler Scholars, a select group that exemplifies, first and foremost, high musical standards, but dynamic intellectual ones as well,” says Eastman School Dean Douglas Lowry. “These are the artist leaders of tomorrow, who might not be able to receive an Eastman and Rochester education without significant assistance.”

Peter Lennie, senior vice president and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, says Handler Scholarships attract talented students in the College. “This marvelously generous gift will enable us to strengthen and extend a program that has already had a profound impact on our undergraduates,” he says.

Meet the current Handler Scholars

Shay BehrensShay Behrens ’14 excelled as a student in the sciences, graduating second in her class with over a 4.0 grade point average, and winning a Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award, at her high school in the small community of Avoca, in southwestern Iowa. As an athlete who distinguished herself as a team leader in multiple sports, she is interested in combining her passion for medicine and sports, while also pursuing a minor in Spanish. She is the first person in her family to attend college, and one of only two students in her graduating class to attend college out of state.

Michael FullerMichael Fuller ’13E grew up in Philadelphia, the youngest of five children and the first in his family to graduate from high school. A former member of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, he studies the double bass at the Eastman School and has performed with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra and the Eastman Philharmonia, an opportunity usually reserved for upperclassmen.

Jonathan PeraltaJonathan Peralta ’13 is a graduate of the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan. He excelled in his academic studies, where he was focused on the sciences, and in his studies in classical voice and opera. He plans to study computer science at Rochester and has been pursuing his passion for music, taking voice lessons at the Eastman School. Raised by a single mother who suffered from drug and alcohol addiction, and his grandmother—both of whom died while he was in high school—Peralta has been financially on his own since before he entered college.

Roth siblingsAaron Roth ’11 was homeschooled until age 15, when he entered public high school in Savannah, Tenn., well behind in math and science. This year he is nearing completion of a brain and cognitive sciences major. Last summer, he worked in a robotics lab at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. In addition, he has been accepted into the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year, or KEY, program, which will enable him to spend a fifth year at the University, tuition-free, to pursue an entrepreneurial project of his own design and take courses in computer science and business to support his project.

Amy Roth ’11 is a psychology major from Savannah, Tenn. Homeschooled until age 16, she has studied abroad in Vienna and completed an internship in London while at Rochester. She plans to attend nursing school after her graduation.
Alejandro López-Samamé ’12E came to the Eastman School from his hometown of Lima, Peru. A largely self-taught musician before he came to Rochester, he is an applied music major specializing in the trumpet. During the summer of 2009, he appeared as first trumpeter with the National Opera of Peru. Last summer, he took part in three important music festivals, including the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany, which included a tour of 25 countries.

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