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College of Engineering and Computing

  • Russell Schwartz stands with his scholars.

Donor Spotlight: How a vending machine inspired the next generation of philanthropy in the Schwartz family

By Zach Driver | November 12, 2019

If there was anyone who knew the value of a few quarters, it was Elmer Schwartz. The longtime College of Engineering and Computing professor was so much more than just a favorite instructor among students. He had a passion for making sure all students could complete their dream of a college education.

That legacy lives on through the Elmer G. Schwartz Mechanical Engineering Scholarship, a fund created by Dr. Schwartz’s son, Russell Schwartz, Political Science ’79, in honor of his late father. 

“He would take the profits from the drink machine in the student lounge and use that as a scholarship fund,” said Schwartz. “There was more than one occasion when a student was near dropping out for financial reasons, and he was able to give somebody $500 in order to keep them.”

Created in 2005, the scholarship has now helped almost 20 students navigate the cost of higher education. Schwartz recently got to sit down with some of those students at the CEC’s Scholar and Donor Luncheon. Over lunch, laughs and a little conversation, Schwartz was impressed by the students and the experience they’re gaining at the CEC.

“I think we can agree that education is worth the effort, and we all can agree that being a Gamecock is a great thing,” he said. “There are so many opportunities open to a graduate from the College of Engineering and Computing, and it’s just great to be able to help further that opportunity.”

More than 100 people attended the luncheon that supports the college’s mission to provide more opportunities to underserved students. Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri was proud to announce the college gave out more than 440 scholarships totaling more than $450,000 to students.

Schwartz said he hopes more people will answer the call to help those struggling to afford school.

“A lot of people say you give until it feels good, but I am of the school that to really feel giving, it has to be a sacrifice, so you have to give until it hurts,” he said. “I would encourage people to give until it hurts just a little.”


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