Anonymous donor gives nearly $4M to UofSC

On the heels of a successful $1 billion capital fundraising campaign, a donor from Columbia has bequeathed nearly $4 million to a variety of scholarship and educational programs at the University of South Carolina.

The $3.94 million donation, which was made by a recently deceased alumnus who wished to remain anonymous, will go to fund scholarships at the South Carolina Honors College and the School of Music, allow for the hiring of full-time steward at the Belser Arboretum and rare book acquisition and preservation at the University Libraries.

This donor was a true renaissance person,” said Eleanor Foster Swarat, associate vice president for development at the university. “He had been very successful on a professional level but continued his involvement with many areas of the university. This quiet philanthropist preferred not to be in the limelight, but wanted to assist others in making their mark on Carolina’s future.”

Initiatives funded with the gift include:

  • A scholarship program for graduate assistantships and fellowships at the School of Music. The donation is one of the largest of its kind the school has received. "The School of Music is deeply indebted for this remarkable gift, one of the largest in its history, made by certainly one of the school's most generous and passionate donors and friends,” says School of Music Dean Tayloe Harding. “It will provide important support for music student financial aid at Carolina, primarily graduate assistantships and fellowships — one of our biggest areas of need.”
  • Book acquisition and preservation at the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. The University Libraries’ collection is committed to preserving rare materials and making them accessible to students, scholars and the wider community. The holdings include 160,000 items and over 50 archival collections, ranging from early medieval manuscripts to historical scientific works and modern literature. “We are grateful for the support of the Irvin Department’s special collections. The donor’s generosity will enable us to acquire and conserve treasured works of natural history well beyond what we could accomplish without this gift,” says USC Libraries Dean Thomas McNally.
  • A full-time manager position for the Belser Arboretum in Columbia. The arboretum was established in 1958 as a sanctuary for teaching ecology and conservation practices to undergraduates at the university. The arboretum hosts lectures and trail walks for students enrolled in environmental classes and allows for first-hand observations. Roger Sawyer, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says the gift will ensure the arboretum remains a thriving natural area for future students to explore. “Through this generous gift, we can expand opportunities for experiential learning across a range of disciplines at the Belser Arboretum,” Sawyer says. “Students will have increased access to this important resource, with its variety of plant and animal life as well as exhibits, observation sites and outdoor field laboratories — all in downtown Columbia near the university campus.”
  • The Carolina Scholar scholarships program, which provides financial assistance to students enrolled in the South Carolina Honors College. The scholarships are among the most prestigious in-state undergraduate awards offered at the university and help attract and retain the state’s best young scholars. “The Carolina Scholars program allows the university to compete, often successfully, for the state’s most academically gifted students and to provide them with an extraordinary education,” says Honors College Dean Steve Lynn. “Gifts of this magnitude resonate across many lives, many geographical boundaries and many generations even.  We are extremely grateful for this profound generosity.”

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