Gift aids community college

McCuan Family Trust donates $1.2 million to Howard school

December 14, 2006|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,sun reporter

Howard Community College received the largest cash gift in its history yesterday when Patrick and Jill McCuan and the McCuan Family Trust donated $1.2 million to the Columbia institution.

The donation includes $1 million to be used in any way the college sees fit. The other $200,000 is a matching gift to be added to an endowment established by the McCuans more than a decade ago.

The McCuan endowment, which will reach $650,000 when the latest funds are matched, provides scholarships for low-income single parents and displaced homemakers.

"We help women who are in transition," Patrick McCuan said. "It is such an incredible population."

McCuan said his wife, Jill, was once in a situation similar to those of many of the women who receive the family's scholarships. After an earlier marriage ended, she attended HCC to learn skills that would get her into the work force and went on to a career in banking.

In the late 1980s, she was chairwoman of the HCC Educational Foundation, a fundraising organization for the college.

Patrick McCuan, 65, was a professor of social work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore before starting a homebuilding company in 1977. That enterprise grew into Columbia-based MDG Cos., which is involved in many aspects of commercial and residential development.

The couple have a 117-acre horse farm and riding facility in Woodbine and a residence in Naples, Fla.

Patrick McCuan said his family likes to make large gifts to give other donors an incentive.

After he sets the example, "other local Howard County business guys will step up and say, `I have a million for the college,'" McCuan said. "I think they should."

Enrollment at the college, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, exceeded 10,000 for-credit students for the first time in fiscal 2006, and HCC enrolled more than 14,000 noncredit students during that time. It is nearing completion of its third new building in six years.

Previously, the college received $1 million from Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz of Columbia for the construction of a visual and performing arts center that opened in August. The money was accompanied by a donation of art.

Noting the Horowitz and McCuan gifts, HCC President Mary Ellen Duncan said, "The fact that two people in the community who are well known ... have shown confidence in the college, that goes a long way to establish our credibility in the community."

The McCuan trust has given million-dollar gifts to several other educational institutions, including the University of Maryland, Baltimore, St. Margaret's School in Tappahannock, Va., where Jill McCuan is chairwoman-elect of the board of governors, and Otterbein College in Ohio.

The gifts are usually for construction or renovation of a building. Patrick McCuan said the HCC gift is different because Duncan convinced him that "she needed the freedom to put the money where she wants to."

Duncan said there are several areas where the money could be used, including expanding health education programs and filling any funding gaps for the Student Services Building being constructed on campus.

She said the staff and foundation board are determining priorities.

The college board of trustees voted Tuesday to name the administration building McCuan Hall.

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