November 2012

Kevin Ollie Pledges $100,000 for UConn Basketball Champions Center

UConn Foundation
UConn Foundation

2 min read

Current Husky head coach has experienced program at every level.

STORRS, Conn. University of Connecticut head men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie has pledged a gift of $100,000 towards the construction of the UConn Basketball Champions Center.

“I thought it was very important to show my commitment to the UConn Basketball Champions Center,” said Ollie. “I have had the incredible opportunity to be a member of the Husky family and that experience has influenced every part of my life.

I want to be an example for all former UConn basketball student-athletes, who have had the privilege of playing for two Hall of Fame coaches, to join me in supporting this facility. It will help ensure the long-term success of the programs that all of us helped establish.”

The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees approved the final construction budget of $33 million for the UConn Basketball Champions Center on Wednesday and the official groundbreaking will take place this spring. The University currently has donations and pledges for $24 million and continues to actively fundraise to secure the total costs of the project, which will be $38 million, including furniture, fixtures and equipment.

“UConn is fortunate to have so many strong supporters from around the country, but members of our own university community are also very generous to the school and Kevin is a great example of this,” said President Susan Herbst. “As we continue to build and renovate so many facilities on our multiple campuses, an outstanding new home is needed for our championship men’s and women’s basketball programs.”

“I want to thank Kevin and his wife Stephanie for making this gift to the UConn Basketball Champions Center,” said Director of Athletics Warde Manuel. “Kevin has experienced our program from all facets as a student-athlete, assistant coach and now the head coach. I am proud that Kevin has provided this leadership gift and it is indicative of the positive contributions that former Husky student-athletes can have on the future success of our programs.”

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Scholarships Help Couple Say Thanks to School of Nursing

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

2 min read

Pat and Norman Bender got so much satisfaction from the first scholarship fund they established at UConn, they decided to set up a second one.

Both scholarships support students in the School of Nursing, from which Pat graduated in 1969.

The first was established in 2004 in honor of Pat’s father, Robert A. Matheson, a 1941 graduate of UConn. “My father was extremely supportive of higher education and devoted to UConn his entire life,” says Pat. They established the scholarship shortly before Matheson died. “We were able to alert friends and family members that they could make donations to his scholarship fund in his memory. It was comforting for them and for us,” says Pat.

“I tell my friends that if they are thinking about establishing a scholarship to honor a friend or family member, they shouldn’t wait. When the sad time comes, and it is going to come for all of us, the scholarship will be in place to receive donations from those who want to honor the person’s memory. My father’s fund still gets donations, to this day.”

The Benders established the second scholarship earlier this year and named it to honor Harold and Lillian Lester. Harold was Pat’s uncle and lived upstairs from Pat’s maternal grandmother. “I spent a lot of time with Lil and Harold. Lil was a nurse and she helped me realize that nursing was a valued profession,” says Pat who lived with her grandmother while attending college.

“Lil was very involved in all aspects of nursing,” says Pat. “She was really ahead of her time, embracing the holistic approach of nursing that we see today.”

This year the Robert A. Matheson and the Harold and Lillian Lester scholarships were awarded to Emily B. Bak, Class of 2015, who thanked the Benders in a letter. “Your financial support will allow me to continue my diligent efforts at the University of Connecticut,” said Emily, who is president of the Nursing Class of 2015, active in mission trips to Haiti, and a volunteer at the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven. “My parents and I work hard to pay for my education, but any financial support we receive helps immensely. I speak for both myself and my family members when I say that this gift is greatly appreciated.”

Pat and Norman have also pledged $50,000 for an endowment fund to provide program support for the School of Nursing.

“Nursing has been very good to me, and I’m fortunate I can give back to UConn and to the profession,” says Pat. “It has been my privilege to practice nursing in a variety of settings from hospital-based bedside to community outreach, to staff development and private practice. My education at the University of Connecticut was invaluable in providing me with a framework to provide quality care. And, I am proud to say, the school continues to educate professionals who excel.”

“I try to help people understand how worthwhile it is to give to UConn. I think it’s important to support an organization doing work that one believes in and is unable to accomplish themselves,” says Pat. “The School of Nursing gave us skills, values, and leadership abilities that were transferable to many aspects of our lives. And the School continues that work today, educating good nurses and good people.”

By: Kristina Goodnough, UConn Foundation

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