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College Receives a $500,000 Scholarship Gift

Monday, June 15, 2015
Betty and Fred Kopf of Westfield sent their son Alexander to Union back in the early 1980s. They thought that someday they’d like to find a way to thank the College for the education their son received.  As Betty said, “Union County College helped my son and continues to help thousands of County residents each year. Setting up a scholarship fund will ensure that future generations of County residents benefit from the service that the College provides.”

The Kopfs made good on their pledge. The Kopfs’ $500,000 gift is a monumental amount for any community college to receive, and one of the largest gifts in Union’s 82-year history.
As an endowed scholarship, the Betty and Fred Kopf Family Fund will generate a guaranteed return of 5 percent—which is $25,000 annually, forever.

The College collected the donation on June 10 after receiving initial notification on May 22. Fred admitted, “I frankly didn’t expect anyone at the College to be in the office at 4:45 on a Friday afternoon to answer the phone, so I thought that I would just be leaving a message on an answering machine.”

It goes without saying that Union County College President Margaret McMenamin and her staff were elated to be in the office to take the call in person. She says, “The Kopfs’ donation will be transformational for County residents. The scholarship will support students who have the intelligence and the desire, but unfortunately lack adequate financial support, to pursue their dream of a college education. Every year, a new group of amazing, appreciative students will be able to thank the Kopfs for this wonderful gift.”

Union County College Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse is ironing out the details of the endowed scholarship with the Kopfs. He says, “The Kopfs’ Scholarship will support nine students every year. Because the scholarship is endowed—which means it is above $25,000—the Kopfs’ donation will be a permanent legacy in the Kopf Family name.”

The current plan is for the scholarship to provide annual funding as follows: Two students who have already attended the College (having earned at least 30 credits) will receive full scholarships which—including books—is valued at $5,000 apiece. As President McMenamin says, “The value of this is that it will provide an incentive for these students to get to the finish line, to graduation.”

Two other students who may be first-time students will also receive full scholarships, including books, at $5,000 apiece.

The remaining $5,000 will be split among five students.

The one constant for the scholarships, and in keeping with the Kopfs’ intention to “give to their local community college,” is in ensuring that every scholarship recipient is a Union County resident.
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