Dental surgeon gives school $2.9 million

Gift to W. Maryland rises to $5.1 million

October 03, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Dental surgeon Dr. Samuel H. Hoover never attended Western Maryland College. The lifelong Baltimore County resident didn't set foot on the school's idyllic Westminster campus until the late 1960s at age 65.

Drawn by the school's community spirit and its commitment to liberal arts education, Hoover became a trustee and, with a gift of $2.2 million, the college's most generous living donor.

Hoover, who died in October 2000 at age 97, also remembered the college in a bequest.

His gift of $2.9 million, announced by the school Monday, will double a major scholarship fund and support the library. The bequest brought his total contribution to the school to about $5.1 million.

"Sam Hoover has been such an important friend of Western Maryland College for so long," said President Joan Develin Coley, who met Hoover in 1975 when she was a faculty representative to the board of trustees. "He really understood very well the liberal arts mission and how important it is to have broadly educated" students.

The bequest is one of the largest gifts the institution has received.

Two-thirds - $1.9 million - will go to the Hoover Scholarship Fund. Established in 1994, the fund offers annual scholarships to undergraduate students from Maryland who demonstrate a commitment to higher education, scholastic aptitude in their field of study and need. Last year, 16 students split $171,000 in Hoover scholarship money. About 80 percent of Western Maryland College undergraduates receive academic or need-based financial aid.

The remainder of Hoover's gift - $981,000 - will be used to establish the Dr. Samuel H. and Elsie W. Hoover Library Endowment Fund. Coley said the money would be used for purchases such as online issues of professional journals.

"Libraries are changing a lot with all of the electronic enhancements," she said. "It's not just about having a book budget anymore. What this will allow us to do is maintain and move our projects forward."

The library was named for the Dundalk dental surgeon and his wife in 1975 and rededicated in their honor in 1991 after a $10 million expansion.

In July, the college announced the receipt of an $8 million donation - the largest gift in the school's 134-year history. The bequest, designated for the endowment, was from the joint estate of Thomas Howard Eaton, a member of the Class of 1927, and his wife, Catharine "Kitty" Welker Eaton. They lived in Royal Oak in Talbot County.

When Coley was inaugurated this year, she said she wanted to triple the endowment by 2010.

Excluding the Eatons' gift, Western Maryland's endowment has doubled in the past five years. The endowment is $55.6 million.

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