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Back to News About Giving to the U
Nov. 14, 2003

U of M receives largest scholarship gift in its history

What: $10 million gift to University of Minnesota for scholarships
Who: Nancy and Larry Bentson
Contacts: Martha Douglas, University of Minnesota Foundation, (612) 626-9712
Amy Phenix, News Service, (612) 625-8510

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The University of Minnesota has received a gift of $10 million from alumni Nancy and Larry Bentson for undergraduate scholarships, the largest gift ever received by the university designated solely for scholarships. The gift was originally made in 2002 as an anonymous bequest, as part of Campaign Minnesota. Now, the Bentsons have announced that they will make an outright gift at this time.

“We are delighted to be able to make this gift now, so that we can help the university and its students sooner than expected,” said Larry Bentson. “Our interest in helping students dates back generations in our family, when my maternal grandmother established an endowed scholarship in 1949. Also, our many successes, personally and professionally, are rooted in our University of Minnesota education. From this background and our desire to have others sample some of these same life experiences, we have established the Bentson Family Scholarships, much like the fund created by Grandma Hoffman.”

The Bentson Family Scholarships will provide students with at least $5,000 a year for four years and will eventually support about 100 students a year. The scholarships will be awarded to promising incoming students who also have financial need. A preference will be given in awarding the scholarships to students of the Jewish faith.

“This extraordinary gift from the Bentsons couldn’t come at a better time, given increased competition among colleges and universities for top students, and increases in the cost of higher education,” said university President Robert Bruininks. “I am so grateful to the Bentsons for their generosity and sincere desire to help others achieve their dreams. This gift will make it possible for us to attract many more talented students every year and keep the doors of opportunity open for future generations.”

Nancy and Larry Bentson both graduated from the University of Minnesota, Nancy in 1945 from the Medical Technology Program, and Larry in 1943 with an engineering degree. Larry pursued a career in communications in partnership with his father-in-law, Eddie Ruben. The Bentsons began their giving to the university in 1977 and have supported the Department of Pediatrics, the KDWB University Pediatrics Family Center, a fellowship in pediatric cardiology, and student scholarships. In 1989 they established the Ruben-Bentson Chair in Pediatrics. They have also volunteered their time in support of many fund-raising activities at the university.

“We recognize that we have been fortunate throughout our lifetimes – blessed with health, loving family, joyful friends and continuing prosperity,” said Larry Bentson. “Out of genuine gratitude and a sincere desire to share our blessings, philanthropy has been a core value for us throughout our lives.”

“Many donors made gifts to the University in the form of bequests during Campaign Minnesota, and it is wonderful that Nancy and Larry will be able to enjoy the results of their philanthropy during their lifetimes,” said Gerald Fischer, president and CEO of the University of Minnesota Foundation. “We are thrilled and grateful for this gift, both for the Bentsons and for the countless generations of students whose lives will be uplifted as a result.”


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