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Ursinus College receives $11 million donation, its largest, for student scholarships

Will and Joan Abele have been donating to Ursinus for five decades. Now, the couple has given the Collegeville campus its largest single gift in its 150-year history.

Philadelphia philanthropists Will and Joan Abele donated $11 million to Ursinus College for a scholarship program.
Philadelphia philanthropists Will and Joan Abele donated $11 million to Ursinus College for a scholarship program.Read moreCourtesy of Ursinus College

Ursinus College has received the largest single gift in its 150-year history — $11 million to support a scholarship program aimed at students from lower- and middle-income families, the school announced Friday.

The gift comes from Philadelphia philanthropists Joan and Will Abele, a 1961 Ursinus graduate, and their family foundation. Selected students will receive $53,000 over four years: $40,000 toward tuition, $2,000 for “start-up” costs such as a laptop or books, $3,000 for internships, summer courses, or academic conferences; and $8,000 in loan forgiveness.

That won’t cover Ursinus’ full tab, which runs about $66,730 annually, including tuition and room and board. But the scholarship comes on top of other state, federal, and institutional aid that students receive and is designed to bridge the gap that many students face in paying for their education, according to officials at the school in Collegeville, Montgomery County. How much each scholar will still have to pay varies.

“This generous gift from the Abeles and the Abele Family Foundation ensures that we will be able to continue to provide this critical support for the next decade and beyond, providing eligible students with a clear pathway to a successful undergraduate career,” said Brock Blomberg, president of the 1,500-student college.

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The Abele Scholars program, which is in its second year, already enrolls 24 students. The new gift will allow the college to add 18 students each year, to be selected by a committee of faculty, staff, alumni, and Abele foundation representatives.

Students from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland are eligible. Students must have financial need, a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher, and a background in leadership and civic engagement. The students will receive advising and other support during their time at the private college.

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The scholarship fund is the latest gift from the Abeles, who have provided support to the college for 50 years. Will Abele, who was owner and president of Henry Troemner LLC, which manufactures general laboratory equipment and precision weights, is a member of Ursinus’ board of trustees.

“For Joan and me, giving back to the college is critically important," Abele said in a statement. "This is about more than giving students an advantage. It’s about giving them opportunity.”