Record Bequest to Endow Hardin-Simmons University Honors Program

Trustees from Hardin-Simmons University voted to use a significant portion of a recent $10 million gift to endow its honors program, announced the Baptist-affiliated institution on Thursday.

Of the estimated $10 million that was bequeathed to HSU after the passing of HSU graduate June Frost Leland in September, an expected corpus of $7.2 million will be dedicated to the Honors Program beginning with the 2006-2007 academic year. Of the remainder of the Leland gift, $500,000 will go into the general scholarship fund over the next two years, and the balance will fund capitol improvements in the University’s “Securing the Future” campaign, according to the announcement made by HSU.

“The establishment of the Leland Scholars Endowment for the Honors Program at Hardin-Simmons University will allow us to compete each year for larger numbers of top academic performers,” said HSU President Dr. Craig Turner in the announcement. “By recruiting such students we will also elevate the academic quality of the classroom experiences of every student and faculty member on our campus.”

“We are certainly blessed and honored to receive an estate that will have such a significant impact throughout the academic programs of the university,” he added.

The establishment of the HSU Honors Program was among the goals announced by the Turner during his inauguration in 2001, according the university. The program, which provides “an enriched educational environment for undergraduate students of exceptional promise, encourages students to engage more actively in pursuing knowledge, in discussing ideas, and in challenging themselves to grow intellectually and spiritually.”

With estimated annual earnings of $380,000 from the Honors Program endowment, the benefit to HSU students is significant, HSU noted. Students who meet the university’s highest entrance requirements are eligible for up to $13,000 per year for four years in scholarships while all students who apply for the Presidential Scholarship and meet the academic requirements are eligible to receive $6,000 per year.

According to HSU, up to 15 applicants accepted into the Honors Program will receive an additional $2,000 per year. Of these students, up to 4 will be selected as “Leland Scholars” and receive up to $5,000 per year. For a student taking a 12-hour/semester load, this could be a “full ride” scholarship – a new opportunity not previously offered at HSU.

The dedication of the portion of Leland’s gift to the Honors Program will “allow the program to mature more effectively,” HSU reported, “benefiting the entire university.”

Leland – a 1940 HSU graduate, Six White Horses Rider, philanthropist, and Ruidoso resident – surprised the university with the estimated $10 million gift when provisions of her estate were made public after her Sept. 1, 2005 passing.

According to HSU, the legacy is the largest single gift ever received by the university.

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