Former Black & Decker chairman Alonzo G. Decker Jr. and his wife, Virginia Decker, have pledged $1 million to the Johns Hopkins University to help fledgling programs come to maturity at its continuing education program.
"The nature of our program in many ways is cutting edge, innovative," said Stanley C. Gabor, dean of the Hopkins School of Continuing Studies. "To do these kinds of programs you need venture capital."
The continuing studies school offers courses and programs to adult, part-time students at Hopkins' Baltimore campuses and at several satellite campuses throughout the Baltimore-Washington corridor.
The Deckers' gift will act like a bank account for new programs to get seed money for their start-up costs. As the programs become financially self-sustaining, they will repay the investment back into the fund -- allowing other initiatives to borrow money, too.
Last fall, the school invested $150,000 for staff, space and budgeting in a program offering a two-year leadership program for police executives throughout the state. Twenty-four police officials from Baltimore, Washington and six Maryland counties enrolled in the first class of the program, which offers a master's degree in applied behavioral science.
The program now pays for itself. Federal officials have applied for the second class, which starts this fall.
"We couldn't have gotten it off the ground if we hadn't taken the chance and squirreled some money aside and used it as venture capital," Mr. Gabor said. "This is exactly where the Decker fund will come in."
"It really is a wonderful fund, coming from a wonderful guy," Mr. Gabor said.
Mrs. Decker has served on the continuing studies school's board of advisers. Mr. Decker is a trustee emeritus at Hopkins who has helped the university raise money during past campaigns.
The Deckers' $1 million promise represents the latest major pledge received during the university's $900 million fund-raising drive. University officials said they have received $379 million in gifts and pledges, about 42 percent of their total goal.
The drive, which unofficially began several years ago but was formally announced last fall, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2000.