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Children of Rite Aid founder donate $10 million to Johns Hopkins University

The children of the founder of drugstore chain Rite Aid will donate $10 million to Johns Hopkins University to support the humanities and establish an institute in their father's name, university officials announced Monday.

The Alexander Grass Humanities Institute will support programming for 10 humanities departments in the university's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and other social sciences departments.

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The Institute will hold scholarly meetings, events for the public, and will support visiting scholars and public speakers, graduate student fellowships and undergraduate research projects, officials said. It may sponsor fellowships for humanities projects in the community, or poetry and essay contests.

The gift is from Elizabeth Grass Weese and Roger Grass through the Alexander Grass Foundation. Weese's daughter, Olivia, is a junior at Johns Hopkins and majoring in writing seminars. Her son, Jonathan, is a doctoral student in computer science.

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"Really, the study of the humanities is at the basis of everything in life, and sometimes it gets short shrift," Weese, 59, a former Baltimore resident and a mother of six, said in a statement. "What I really love about the institute is its cross-disciplinary nature, which illustrates the scope of the humanities. The opportunities will ultimately broaden students' options in life."

Weese and her husband, Brian, were owners of the defunct Bibelot bookstore chain, which went bankrupt in 2001. The couple was sued several times by creditors who alleged that the couple fraudulently transferred nearly $20 million to an offshore trust fund before the bankruptcy. The couple reached a $13 million settlement with creditors in 2003.

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