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Bruce Benson

In 1992, Bruce Benson established a scholarship at the U to honor his father.

Pay it forward: Alum helps fill need for future generations

Alum helps fill need for future generations

From M, fall 2004

Bruce Benson believes that scholarships are about more than just money. While he knows that they're often the deciding factor for students choosing a college, scholarships also boost students' motivation and self-esteem. He should know; he's a case in point.

As a senior in high school in 1958, Benson had already been offered a four-year scholarship to another school when he was contacted by George Hager, the dean of the University of Minnesota's pharmacy school. Benson, who had been having second thoughts about his college plans, agreed to meet with Hager. The meeting went well, and when Hager offered Benson a $300 scholarship, Benson changed his plans and enrolled at the University. "It might not seem like that much, but in those days, $300 was more than annual tuition," he says.

By enrolling at the University, Benson followed in the footsteps of his father, a St. Paul pharmacist who graduated from the U in 1924. The younger Benson went on to earn a B.S., an M.S., and a Ph.D. from the University, and he now serves as assistant director of professional relations at the College of Pharmacy, where one of his duties is heading the mentorship program.

Working with students has strengthened his belief in the importance of scholarships, Benson says. "The need is tremendous," he says, noting that undergraduate expenses are about $17,000 yearly for Minnesota residents. "Once you've worked with college kids--who are honest, open, and energizing--you realize that it's money well spent." In 1992, Benson established the Sidney B. Benson Memorial Scholarship to honor his father, and he has also included scholarship support in his estate planning.

He is hopeful that the scholarships will serve as his legacy. "When I'm no longer here, people might not remember what I've done," Benson says. "But I hope they remember that I cared. Providing a scholarship is one way of doing that."

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