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University of Baltimore receives record $5 million donation from real estate developer to create scholarship fund

The University of Baltimore announced Monday that it would receive a record $5 million gift from real estate developer Samuel G. Rose to create a scholarship fund for cash-strapped undergraduates.

The money from Rose, a commercial real estate developer who lives in Miami and Bethesda, will create a new scholarship fund for college students having trouble affording tuition. Preference will be given to students transferring to the University of Baltimore who have already completed the bulk of their freshman year, according to a university news release.

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It is the largest cash gift from a single donor that the school’s endowment has received, university President Kurt L. Schmoke said. Rose graduated from the law school in 1962, though he never worked as an attorney.

“Sam’s generosity has been just tremendous and it is inspiring,” Schmoke said. He noted that as a young student in the late 1950s, Rose struggled to make ends meet.

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“Sam wants to help undergraduates who are lower-income like he was growing up, “Schmoke said.

“Our student body is older, with an average age of 28. Most work full-time. The University of Baltimore has always been a career-oriented place, and that attracted Sam. He knew our students need help juggling many different things in their lives.”

It is the second seven-figure gift in less than a year that Rose has pledged to the university. Last fall, Rose donated $1.2 million in an emergency fund for students who sought to continue their educations during the pandemic. Among other things, that money was used to purchase computers and other equipment enabling students to attend classes remotely.

A third seven-figure gift to the University of Baltimore that will have a criminal justice focus is in the works, Rose and Schmoke said.

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Real estate developer Samuel G. Rose, who donated a record $5 million to the University of Baltimore to create an undergraduate scholarship fund. - Original Credit: Christopher Myers
Real estate developer Samuel G. Rose, who donated a record $5 million to the University of Baltimore to create an undergraduate scholarship fund. - Original Credit: Christopher Myers (Christopher Myers / HANDOUT)

Rose, 84, said that his most important professional mentor was the visionary developer Jim Rouse, for whom he worked after graduating from law school.

“Jim and I used to have these big arguments,” Rose said.

“He believed that housing was the way to improve society, that getting people out of slums and crummy neighborhoods was the key to a better life.

“I said, ‘No, Jim, education is the answer. I’d rather give a guy a skill and let him make his own way.’ ”

The money for the scholarship fund is coming from the sale of two artworks from Rose’s personal collection by the pioneering African American painters Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden. The paintings were purchased by the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, a museum under construction in Los Angeles, founded by George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars film franchise.

Even that sale will forward Rose’s educational aims by transferring two paintings by modern masters from private hands into a public viewing space.

“If you can get an education and find something you love to do, you have a shot at a decent life,” Rose said.

Rose grew up in Northwest Baltimore, the son of a former longshoreman turned insurance salesman. Though he never practiced law, he has fond memories of his legal studies.

“At the time, the law school was in the basement of a church,” he said. “They didn’t even have a building. The classes were huge, 200 students. But I passed the Maryland bar exam on my first try.”

He recalls that an arrogant professor named Spiro Agnew rubbed him the wrong way.

“He said something in a lecture one day that I didn’t understand so I went up after class to talk to him,” Rose recalled.

“He said, ‘Look, kid, don’t ask questions. Just write down what I say.’ I thought, ‘I don’t like this guy.’ ”

More than a decade later, Agnew resigned as U.S. vice president in 1973 after pleading no contest to one count of federal income tax evasion.

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