Matching Memories & Dreams
A spring scholarship appeal raises nearly $1 million for UNH's neediest students

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As a boy, Doug Scamman '64 often rode with his father, W. Douglas Scamman Sr., to Concord, where he served in the state Legislature. As they drove through Durham from their dairy farm in Stratham, Doug's father would tell him, "You're going to go to school here someday."

The elder Scamman grew up during the Great Depression, and as much as his parents wanted him to go to college, there simply wasn't enough money. "My father was a smart man," Doug says. "He would have been really something if he could have gone to college."

With the help of scholarships, his son did go to UNH, and majored in political science. "I worked on my father's farm right through high school," says Doug, "but I was weaned on politics." Four generations of the Scamman family have served on the Stratham Board of Selectmen, and his father, like Doug himself, served in the state Legislature and as Speaker of the House.

When Doug and his wife, Stella Emanuel Scamman '63, heard about a special scholarship appeal last spring, they were immediately on board. "We know what it's like to worry about being able to afford to go to college," Doug says.

Within six weeks of the announcement of the new scholarship opportunity, 30 donors stepped forward and pledged almost $1 million. By the end of June, 30 students learned they had received $2,000 in new scholarship support. Called Match UP, the program enables donors to create new scholarships for the neediest students—with twice the normal giving power. Here's how it works: A donor gives $25,000 to create an endowed fund, generating a $1,000 scholarship, which UNH then matches.

Perry Smith/UNH Photographic Services

Peter Weiler, president of the UNH Foundation, says the effort couldn't have happened at a better time. The state Legislature had just cut public funding to USNH from 13 percent to 6 percent. The result, in addition to budget cuts, was another tuition increase for in-state students.

"We were thrilled with the response," he says. "The donors who stepped up to the plate changed the lives of 30 students. That's a big deal."

The Scammans both credit their UNH education with giving them a "great start" to everything that followed. Stella, whose parents were first-generation Americans, grew up in Laconia, N.H. She and her three siblings were raised by their mother after Stella's father died. Three of the four children attended UNH. Without scholarships, Stella says, she wouldn't have been able to attend.

After a 25-year career that included owning her own business, The Creative Cricket, and teaching history, Stella, too, entered state politics. Between them, the Scammans served 32 years in the New Hampshire House. Doug also served as the budget director for Gov. Steve Merrill '69 and director of administration for the Department of Transportation. Stella was a member of the USNH Board of Trustees for 12 years.

Doug operated his 400-acre farm on Rte. 108 with his father and later his son Kirk '86. In 1999, they sold the cows, but today, half the farm is protected in a conservation easement.

Both Stella and Doug say UNH gave their lives breadth and substance. "I learned more about life in four years than I had learned my whole life until then," says Doug. Stella adds, "UNH opened up a whole new world for me. UNH certainly broadened my knowledge, but just as importantly, my life experience. That's what we want this scholarship to do for not only kids today, but future generations of students as well."

A UNH scholarship can mean the difference between going to college or not going. Some recipients are from families in which a parent is unemployed; some are wards of the state. All of them have overcome obstacles to attend UNH. Their other common denominator is gratitude to the donors who made the scholarships possible.

But if there is anyone happier than the incoming freshmen receiving Match UP scholarships, it's Suzy Allen '77, director of financial aid at UNH, who got to tell them the good news. Over the years, Allen has heard heartbreaking stories of families who have suffered a sudden loss of income or even the loss of a parent to cancer. "I've found that over these many years, families have become more knowledgeable about the cost of college, but no one can see into the future and the unforeseen circumstances that can devastate a family," she says.

Although the selection of scholarship recipients is based on need, each case is personally reviewed. "They're special kids," Allen says. Even with scholarship support, she concedes, there are students who are unable to afford to attend the university. Whatever gap they have to fill—currently, the average is $5,000—for some students it may as well be $5 million. "They simply don't have the money," Allen says. "Those students may never know what UNH could have offered them, and their futures."

UNH Registrar Kathie Forbes '69 remembers being an undergraduate at UNH the year the state Legislature triggered a 40 percent tuition increase for nonresident students. Forbes' family lived in northern Virginia, and the increase they faced was steep. Even more jarring, her roommate, also an out-of-state student, had to leave UNH because she couldn't afford to stay. "I'll never forget that," Forbes says.

So when she heard about Match UP, Forbes decided to act. "I called my kids and they liked the idea, so we did it," she says. The Kerry Duncan Forbes Scholarship was established in memory of Forbes' late husband, who was a member of the Class of 1971 and benefitted from financial assistance.

UNH has committed up to $5 million in matching funds to the new scholarship program. But now the threshold to create an endowment is $50,000, which generates a $2,000 scholarship. So the program, which includes a match from UNH, can offer $4,000 scholarships—twice the amount of aid to future students hoping to get a "great start" on life. ~

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