Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, has announced gifts totaling $30 million from the estates of Roy H. and Dorothy Park and the Park Foundation to endow a scholarship program for communications students.
The endowment will support the Park Scholar Program, which awards scholarships covering the full cost of an Ithaca education — including tuition, living expenses, and a books and technology stipend — to a cohort of incoming students who aspire to become conscientious communications professionals. Established in 1996 and housed in the Roy H. Park School of Communications, the program offers a mixture of academic and service programming designed to encourage scholars to take action, give back to their communities, and use the power of mass communication to make a positive impact on the world. Before the establishment of the endowment, the program was supported by annual gifts from the Park Foundation.
Roy H. Park, Sr., who moved in 1942 with his wife from North Carolina to Ithaca after acquiring an advertising agency there, later co-founded Hines-Park Foods, bought his first television station in 1964, and eventually owned a company that included seven television stations, fourteen radio stations, and a hundred and forty-four newspapers. The couple established the Park Foundation in 1966, and Roy joined the Ithaca College board in 1973, serving as chair from 1982 to 1993. After his death in 1993, his widow led the foundation's efforts, which included support for initiatives such as the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, the Project Look Sharp media literacy program, and the Park Center for Independent Media, as well as construction of the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise, home to the School of Business. Dorothy Park died in 2016.
"The generosity of the Park Foundation and the Roy and Dorothy Park estates not only benefits scholars while they are studying at IC, allowing them to contribute significantly to the campus and larger communities, but also gives these scholars the opportunity to continue to work for social good after graduation," said Park Scholar program director Nicole Koschmann. "Scholars finish their education with considerably less debt than many college graduates, and most scholar alumni use this opportunity to take jobs that are meaningful and impactful, such as working for social justice organizations and nonprofits, and in fields such as journalism, education, and public law. In this way, it is a gift not only to the scholars, but to our society."
(Photo credit: Ithaca College)