Dr. Graham retired as Dean in December after serving in that post for 14 years. Linda Graham recently retired as Program Coordinator for the UIC College of Nursing.
The Grahams were surprised with the creation of the scholarship at the College’s 100th Anniversary Gala Dinner, held at the Grand Ballroom of Navy Pier on Nov. 16.
The College’s Advancement team of Mark J. Valentino, Bruno Mancari, Ana Lisa Ogbac, and William S. Bike, and Interim Dean Bill Knight, raised more than $61,000 from private benefactors in the three weeks leading up to the Gala to endow the scholarship.
“The College continues to accept donations for the Dr. Bruce S. Graham and Linda M. Graham Scholarship Fund,” Valentino said. “We are so grateful to those who stepped forward when we worked to create the fund, but also wanted keep this a secret from Bruce and Linda. We know that many others will also wish to honor them and to help our students; the fund provides a wonderful opportunity for both.”
Graham Scholarships will be conferred to students at the College’s annual Senior Luncheon and Awards Program each May. Dr. Graham noted that the scholarships will be provided to students with financial need who have shown growth and improvement in their academic achievements.
“Linda and I were totally surprised,” Dr. Graham said. “When I saw Bill Knight and Mark Valentino walk up to the stage at the Gala, I began to get an idea that something was up, but Linda and I never dreamed there would be an endowed student scholarship in our names.”
“Pictures of our family started to appear on the large overhead screen, and Bill and Mark gave wonderful accolades about Bruce, which was really very, very nice of them,” Linda Graham said. “When they said that the endowed scholarship was in both of our names, I was totally overcome with emotion and felt so honored that I was also included.”
Audience members each were provided with hand-held LED wands, which they kept secret from the Grahams. When the scholarship was announced, everyone rose from their seats, activated their lights, and held them aloft to honor the couple. Ogbac then came out on stage and presented a poster-sized check for $61,000 to the Grahams, who noted that the fund being designated for student scholarships is particularly meaningful to them.
“I have made a career in dental education because I wanted to make the experience better than my own as a dental student,” Dr. Graham said. “Having a scholarship for dental students named for Linda and me is truly a wonderful gift. Linda has always been my strongest supporter throughout my career, so it is especially meaningful for me to see her honored in this way.”
“It has been my secret desire for a long time to be able to assist students with their financial commitments, but I was never sure of the best way to accomplish this,” Linda Graham said. “My wish has now come true thanks to the generous donations of so many people. And it is exciting that the endowed scholarship will continue in perpetuity.”
“One of the key issues facing dental education is its cost,” said Dr. Knight. “Bruce and Linda have been very forthcoming about their concerns about the ever-mounting debt of students. Anything we can do to lighten the debt load is worthy of pursuit.
“I’ve worked with Dr. Graham for 21 years, and I know the most difficult and painful decisions he’s had to make relate to student tuition increases. So it is both wonderful and fitting that this legacy for Bruce and Linda is the beginning of redoubled efforts to address the cost of dental education at the UIC College of Dentistry,” Dr. Knight said.
Faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the College have contributed to date to the Graham Scholarship Fund.
“I deeply appreciate their generosity,”
“The generosity of the alumni, faculty, staff, and friends to this scholarship is wonderful, greatly appreciated, and very humbling,” Linda Graham said. “It certainly shows their commitment, firstly to the dental students’ education, and secondly to Bruce’s leadership as Dean.
“I want to express a sincere thank you to all of those who came up with the idea of the scholarship,”
Dr. Graham agreed, thanking both those who raised the funds and the donors themselves. He noted that the scholarship is an appropriate step in the evolution of the College’s fundraising priorities.
“I have been saying recently that the next priority for College fundraising, now that the building has been renewed and re-equipped, has to be student scholarships—
For information on contributing to the Bruce S. Graham and Linda M. Graham Scholarship Fund, contact Director of Development Bruno Mancari at (312) 413-3554 or firstname.lastname@example.org.