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Jean and Rick Walsh of Harvard, Mass. recently made a philanthropic gift of $500,000 to Salem State University. The donation supports undergraduate student scholarships through the Walsh Family Award and also provides unrestricted funds for emerging university priorities supporting student success. This latest gift brings the family’s total Salem State contributions to $1 million over the past 10 years.

Since establishing the Walsh Family Award in 2011, the couple’s generosity has provided 24 high-achieving students with financial support to help defray their annual academic expenses. Recipients may be considered for scholarship renewal if they maintain the required academic achievement. 

The Walshes’ latest gift also increases the number of Walsh Family Award recipients from six to eight students each year.

“When I went to Salem State 50 years ago, the tuition was affordable enough that my parents didn’t have to help me pay for college,” Jean says. “I wouldn’t have gotten a college education without that kind of accessibility. Rick and I want to make sure that students can still attain an excellent higher education. We believe that scholarships for Salem State students are investments with the best kind of return.” 

Sandy Huu, a biology major and chemistry minor graduating this May said the Walsh Family Award is setting her up for long-term success.

“I recently returned to college after the burden of finances made me decide to put a hold on my education years ago,” Huu says. “The Walsh Family Award helped tremendously. It took away some of the worry about how to pay for school while providing for my son. I excelled last semester and feel that now with a bachelor’s degree I can obtain a better future for him and for me.”

Walsh Family Award recipients have ultimately joined a range of professional fields, from teaching and military service to accounting and advocacy.

Salem State University President John D. Keenan says, “The Walshes’ visionary philanthropy ensures that our exceptional students can access the financial support and academic resources they need to fulfill their aspirations. Without donors like Jean and Rick, some students simply would not have access to these opportunities.”

“For some of our students, the cost of textbooks can be the difference between staying in school or dropping out and never returning,” said Bonnie Galinski, interim vice president for enrollment management and marketing at Salem State University. “It’s no exaggeration to say that Jean and Rick Walsh transform lives—enabling our students to earn their degree, take charge of their future, and contribute to the Commonwealth’s vitality.”

In addition to the Walsh Family Award, the Walsh family’s gift includes an additional $125,000 in unrestricted support for the university. Jean hopes her fellow alumni from the Class of 1971 will join her in donating to their alma mater in honor of their 50th reunion year. The Walshes previously established the Mary G. Walsh Writing Center at Salem State in 2013 to honor Rick’s mother. Longtime Harvard residents and now retired, Jean worked in the Everett Public Schools and Rick worked at Fidelity Investments.