Trust to invest $5 million for minority scholarships


A Maryland philanthropy with a long history of gifts to higher education will set up a $5 million endowment to support minority scholarships at four private colleges in Maryland, officials announced yesterday.

Proceeds from the endowment to be set up by the Hodson Trust will be shared by the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Hood College in Frederick, St. John's College in Annapolis and Washington College in Chestertown.

Although the trust has given more than $49 million to the four colleges since 1936, the endowment represents its first major gift earmarked for minority scholarships.

"Minorities are underrepresented in higher education. The goal is to remedy that," said Finn M. W. Caspersen, chairman of the Hodson Trust.

The trust, which is affiliated with Delaware-based Beneficial Corp., plans to contribute $5 million to the endowment over the next three to five years.

When fully funded, the endowment will generate at least $200,000 in income annually.

In the meantime, the trust is dedicating some of its contributions to allow the colleges to expand their scholarships for minority students.

Presidents of three of the colleges attended yesterday's announcement in Baltimore and said the endowment would make it easier for their schools to attract minorities to their predominantly white campuses.

"It allows us in very austere times to continue to maintain the commitment to diversity by providing full financial aid to all those who are needy," said Christopher B. Nelson, president of St. John's. "I can't tell you how critical these gifts are for St. John's."

The endowment will be unusual in that it will be set up to benefit four colleges. In all this year, the trust will give $2.9 million to the four colleges -- $855,000 each to Hood, Hopkins and Washington College, and $358,000 to St. John's.

Only a portion of that will go into the minority scholarship endowment.

Most of the rest will be used for existing undergraduate scholarships that are not based on race. In addition, Hopkins will use some of the Hodson gift to support graduate fellowships in the humanities and cancer research.

It was not clear how many minority students would benefit from the scholarship endowment.

The Hodson Trust was established in 1920 by Thomas S. Hodson, an Eastern Shore lawyer. Its only assets are stock certificates in Beneficial Corp., the consumer finance company founded by Mr. Hodson's son, Clarence Hodson.

Since its inception, the trust has concentrated on gifts to Maryland's private colleges and now ranks as one of the most consistent donors to each campus.

Annual tuition at the four colleges ranges from $12,000 at Hood to $17,900 at Hopkins, not including room, board and books.

The new endowment will be overseen by a board made up of three representatives of the Hodson Trust and the presidents of the four colleges.

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