Award honors school legacy

by Kamariea Forcier

A scholarship named for outgoing University President Nils Hasselmo and his wife Pat will be inaugurated today at a ceremony in the Great Hall of Coffman Memorial Union.
The noon ceremony will be hosted by WCCO-TV news anchor Colleen Needles.
Laura Miller, a high school senior from Osseo, will be presented with the first-ever Hasselmo scholarship; she will receive $1,000 each year to attend the University for the next four years. Miller, an honor student involved in numerous extra-curricular activities, was chosen for the scholarship because of her commitment to academia and volunteerism.
“I have met Laura Miller, who is the recipient of the scholarship, and I am delighted that she is the first recipient. She is an excellent student,” Hasselmo said.
The scholarship was established by the University Foundation as a way for people to say ‘thank you’ to the Hasselmos, said Gerald Fischer, president of the foundation. University officials said they intend to award a first-year student with the scholarship each year.
“We established this endowment feeling that it was particularly appropriate for the Hasselmos, because of his and their prioritization of improving the undergraduate experience,” said Fischer.
Hasselmo recognized the need for more scholarships during his presidency and made sure it was a priority during his tenure, Fischer said.
“It continues to be a significant need for the University,” he said. “The idea of a scholarship endowment that will essentially provide financial support for students forever seemed to be an appropriate legacy — part of the Hasselmo legacy.”
Donors have responded favorably to his call for more scholarships, Hasselmo said. But he added that the dedication to increasing scholarships at the University is not only his legacy.
“It’s the legacy of faculty and staff and students, who have worked very hard to make this possible,” he said.
Karen Benson, until recently a senior secretary for Hasselmo, said she thinks the scholarship is a fitting way to honor Hasselmo.
“The one thing Nils does want to be remembered for is his dedication to quality undergraduate education,” Benson said. “He is the most warm-hearted person. The fact that he wants to be remembered with these students, it just says everything there is to know about him.”
Miller said she’s very surprised about the scholarship, and she looks forward to her time at the University.
“Things are going real well so far,” she said.
More than 2,700 incoming freshman applied for the University’s roughly 800 scholarships. This leaves too many students without scholarships, said Christina Grimes of the department of admissions.
“The scholarship funds we have are nowhere near adequate,” she said. But she praised the Hasselmos for their efforts to endow more scholarships.