LA GRANDE — Eastern Oregon University Foundation announced its largest ever scholarship award, a $700,000 fund to provide various amounts to more than 200 students during the 2020-21 academic year.

“Scholarships make it possible for hundreds of EOU students to seek and complete their degrees at EOU,” Patrick Regan, executive director of philanthropy and the EOU Foundation said in a news release. “For many, it may be the only way for them to afford the education they need to allow them to achieve a fulfilling career and be leaders in their communities.”

Funding for foundation scholarships comes from private endowments made by former students and faculty. Some are funded by one-time donations, other donors pay into the fund yearly. For example, James Gorham, an EOU alumnus who graduated in 1995, and his wife, Tracey, established a scholarship within the foundation to help students who want to be physical therapists. And Herb and Linda Jolliff set up an endowed scholarship specifically for students who want to pursue a career teaching math in rural Oregon.

“Both Herb and Linda are from small towns in Oregon,” according to Regan. “Herb taught math at Oregon Tech for his career, and he and Linda want to encourage students who have an interest in doing a similar thing. The James and Tracey Gorham Scholarship is for students intending to go into physical therapy. James is a physical therapist in La Grande and wants to support EOU students who will follow him into his chosen profession.”

The foundation supports more than 150 scholarships, each with special eligibility requirements determined by the donors. All of the scholarships require an application, which the board of trustees reviews. This application includes information about the student and an essay. Awards range from $500-$6,000.

“Many of the people who contribute to scholarship funds received the same kind of help when they were students,” the news release from EOU said.

In addition to scholarships for the next academic year, EOU Foundation has begun offering additional support through the Student Crisis Fund in response to COVID-19. The fund was established to help students who face sudden hardships and is now being offered on a more widespread level to students struggling due to the global pandemic. Information about the fund and scholarships can be found on EOU’s website.

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