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The Shirt to fund scholars

Joseph McMahon | Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Financial Management Board is moving to create seven new scholarships in memory of students who died while attending Notre Dame, Student Union Board treasurer Kedeja Gaines said.

If the initiative succeeds, funds from The Shirt Charity Fund will be used to create scholarships with a $25,000 endowment, Gaines said.

The Fund will reach $1 million for the first time this year, she said.

Gaines said she hopes to establish the scholarships before the end of the academic year.

Students who would be memorialized include Timothy Aher and Connor McGrath, both of whom died in unrelated incidents Feb. 17, Ryan Rudd who died in 2007, Caitlin Brann who died in 2006, Daniel Kish who died in 2005 and Chad Sharon, who went missing in December 2002 and was found dead in February 2003.

“The scholarships would serve as a great way to not only benefit the Notre Dame community in the name of the deceased student in question, but also a way to forever immortalize each student and the impact they have had on our community,” she said.

This is not the first time money from The Fund was used to create an endowed scholarship memorializing a student.

In 2001, a memorial scholarship was created in honor of Connor Murphy, a junior who died of leukemia, Gaines said.

The Fund’s other function is to help students pay for medical expenses.

Gaines said the Financial Management Board will not proceed with individual scholarships before acquiring permission of the student’s family. She has yet to approach the Aher and McGrath families, she said.

“I’d really like to respect the situation of the families and give them a little bit of time to themselves,” she said. “Then I’d just like to let them know that this opportunity is out there to really honor their sons and keep them immortalized within the school.”

There are two main steps in creating the scholarship.

First, a minimum of $25,000 must be deposited for the establishment of an endowed scholarship fund, Gaines said. The scholarships will rely on the Financial Management Board, which is responsible for approving all activities of The Fund, for the initial $25,000, she said. Later, other dorm and class council groups may contribute to renewing the scholarships.

After the initial funds are allocated, representatives of The Fund will work with the student’s family and friends in order to establish the criteria by which scholarship recipients would be selected.

“Normally, these criteria would reflect some aspect of the memorialized student,” she said.

If the necessary $25,000 is acquired, Gaines said the scholarship would pay approximately $500 per year to the student recipient from interest on the endowed sum. However, the scholarship can grow with donations from dorms and other on-campus organizations.

The scholarship for Mara Fox, a freshman struck by a car in 1993, has been funded by Fox’s former dorm, Lyons Hall, through the Mara Fox Run.

“With [Fox’s] dorm, they created an event that currently kicks money into this endowed memorial scholarship,” Gaines said.

Gaines said she will be meeting with the Student Bar Association to discuss a scholarship for Aher and with representatives from Pasquerilla East Hall to discuss one for former resident Brann.