The University of Baltimore announced the biggest gift in its history yesterday - more than $3 million from MBNA Corp. and three of its top executives who are UB alumni.
Most of the money is designated for UB's Merrick School of Business. The $2 million from MBNA will endow the MBNA Information Systems Learning Center, which focuses on e-commerce and other high-tech aspects of business education.
Bruce Hammonds, MBNA's chief operating officer and a 1971 graduate of the business school, has committed $500,000 for the Hammonds Scholars program, designated for scholarships and other support for students in high-tech business areas.
Vernon Wright, a 1969 business school graduate who is MBNA's corporate finance officer, also gave $500,000, which will fund international business initiatives.
John Scheflen, general counsel of MBNA, gave UB $125,000 for a fund that can be used at the discretion of the law school dean. Scheflen earned his law degree from UB in 1974.
"We are truly fortunate to have alumni this generous," said John Hatfield, dean of the business school. "The corporate gift from MBNA will mean an awful lot to us in terms of leadership in the areas of information and technological commerce and learning. The gifts from Bruce and Vernon will mean a lot to our undergraduate students."
UB President H. Mebane Turner said Hammonds and Wright both went to Delaware with MBNA when the credit card operation was sold by Maryland National Bank.
"They've done a wonderful job there," Turner said. "Both Bruce and Vernon went to night school and worked their way through school. They are returning something to the same kind of men and women who are going through now what they went through in the past."
Hatfield said Hammonds worked at the now-closed Sears store on North Avenue while at UB.
"He was very proud of the fact that he worked his way through school," Hatfield said. "That's why he was so interested in having an impact on the same type of first-generation college students who are doing the same thing."
Scheflen, who was a member of UB's third class of full-time law students, made his gift in honor of John Sebert, who left this year as dean of the law school.
"I had met with Dean Sebert and he told me how useful it would be for the dean to have a fund to deal with things that crop up from time to time," said Scheflen, who has been with MBNA eight years.
Scheflen said that he, Hammonds and Wright had long been aware of their UB ties, but initially did not plan to make the gifts together. "We were all thinking about it independently, and when we found out, we decided to do it together," he said.