July 21, 2016, BY Christina Masciere Wallace

Students studying outside
Photo by Brett Simpson, Division of Communications

Bob '45 and Doris Malesardi knew that the University's 166th Commencement in May was going to be a special moment. The Class of 2016 would be the first to accept their diplomas on the newly renamed Malesardi Quadrangle — no doubt an emotional event for the couple, who last winter pledged an unprecedented $20 million to endow scholarships that will help future generations of students attend Bucknell.

But they couldn't have predicted the response from so many grateful Bucknellians, who thanked the Malesardis for their extraordinary generosity with handshakes, hugs and tears of joy. || Click here to watch President John Bravman pay tribute to the Malesardis during Commencement

"The outpouring of gratitude has been overwhelming, particularly during Commencement, which was a very special moment for us," said Doris Malesardi. "It was a beautiful expression of the value Bucknellians place on their education and on this great institution."

The Malesardis' record-setting support will benefit Bucknell students as long as the University stands — and a new matching-gift program will amplify that impact as part of WE DO, The Campaign for Bucknell University.

"Doris and I feel strongly that scholarships are the absolute best investment we could make in the future of young people as well as Bucknell," said Bob Malesardi, who entered Bucknell 75 years ago at the age of 16.

"It was important to us that our support be structured in a way that encourages others to join us in supporting such a worthy cause."

In the new program, gifts of $100,000 or more to endowed scholarships are eligible for a 1-to-2 match from the Malesardis. For example, an individual who gives $100,000 to create or support an endowed scholarship will receive $50,000 in matching funds from the Malesardi gift toward that scholarship.

"Our commitment to providing an exemplary undergraduate educational experience rests upon our ability to attract the very best students, regardless of their financial circumstances. That requires us to be highly intentional about strengthening our financial aid resources," said Bucknell University President John Bravman. "The Malesardi Match is an extraordinary opportunity to focus on that priority while allowing donors to amplify their impact on our students and on Bucknell's future."  

A top priority
Endowed scholarships, a top priority of WE DO, provide a permanent source of funding that increases access for talented, deserving students. They are crucial to the University's ability to compete with top institutions and enroll the best students of all backgrounds.

That includes Trevana Eades '18, a Charles T. Bauer Scholar who is planning a career in medicine. She was among the scholarship recipients who attended the Malesardi Quad renaming ceremony in April.  

"It was really important to me, because without my scholarship, I wouldn't be at Bucknell today," said Eades, who majors in psychology and political science. "I think what the Malesardis did will give people like me an opportunity to experience Bucknell and the great things it has to offer."

During the University's last campaign, which ended in 2000, a 1-to-3 matching program for scholarship gifts and pledges increased the impact of a $15 million gift from Ted Ammon '71. The resulting $76 million in new scholarship funds increased the percentage of undergraduate scholarship recipients at Bucknell from 35 percent to 50 percent.

In addition to strengthening the University's ability to recruit the best students, the increased availability of funds helps hold down student-loan debt for graduates. Despite the rising cost of a college degree, the average federal student-loan debt load for Bucknell graduates who borrowed has held steady for the last several years at about $22,500. National averages for federal student-loan debt vary by source but generally hover around $30,000.

"The Malesardi Match has the potential to provide scholarships to even more Bucknell students and make Bucknell more selective in the process," said Bill Conley, vice president of admissions. "The Malesardis are leading by example in a thoughtful way that will forever shape the University, and we are forever grateful."

The final $100 million
WE DO recently passed the $400 million mark and is now $100 million away from its goal of half-a-billion dollars.  The most ambitious campaign in University history, it offers myriad opportunities at all gift levels for Bucknellians to support current and future students. 

To learn more about the Malesardi Match, please contact Mark Sharer, executive director of leadership gifts & constituent fundraising, at 570-577-3914 or mark.sharer@bucknell.edu

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