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Monday, June 7, 2010

Tim Fannin and John Foerstner have endowed a new scholarship


BRADFORD, Pa. – College friends Tim Fannin and John Foerstner have endowed a new scholarship for business students at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

The PBAA/Fannin & Foerstner Scholarship Fund will be administered by the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association, with which both men are active.

Fannin and Foerstner first met as nontraditional business students in the 1970s at Pitt-Bradford.

Fannin said that among the first students in the business program, most were nontraditional students.

“We got to be a pretty close-knit group because we were all older. Dave was just one of the guys,” he said of David L. Blackmore Sr., associate professor emeritus, who was the first professor of business at Pitt-Bradford.

Foerstner said that students often went out together following evening classes and spent time outside of class with professors.

“We had a good relationship with the professors,” he said, spending time, for example, cross-country skiing with Blackmore.

Fannin and Foerstner didn’t keep in touch after college, but were reunited at a retirement reception for Blackmore when Fannin, already active in the PBAA, encouraged Foerstner to become active in the organization.

Fannin said Foerstner later approached him about creating a scholarship together. At the time, his own two children were in college, and he hesitated to make the donation.

“I was pleasantly surprised that it was affordable,” Fannin said. “The way that it’s structured with the matching grant (from the Agnes L. and Lewis Lyle Thomas Scholarship Challenge) and the ability to pay in installments makes it really doable.”

Foerstner said, “We’ve talked about doing a scholarship for quite awhile to strengthen our relationship to the university. When the Thomas Scholarship Challenge came along, it was a no-brainer.”

The Agnes L. and Lewis Lyle Thomas Scholarship Challenge matches the amount of any gift between $5,000 and $50,000 given for scholarships. The commitment can be paid over five years. The challenge allowed Fannin and Foerstner to endow a scholarship with a gift of $2,500 each.

The pair also chose to have their scholarship be a PBAA scholarship, which allows a PBAA committee to hand-screen the applicants and recommend recipients based not only on their application information, but also on their responses to an optional essay.

Foerstner is a former chairman of the PBAA scholarship committee.

“Being close to it like that gave me more of an understanding of the financial commitments and burdens on the students,” he said.

Foerstner went a step further to help more students by making a second, $5,000 gift to establish the Foerstner Family Scholarship, which will be a general scholarship endowed by him on behalf of himself and his three sons, whom he hopes will continue to contribute as they get older.

Foerstner said he was inspired to endow the second scholarship after attending a luncheon for scholarship donors held every March at Pitt-Bradford. Each year, two student speakers address the group about what their scholarships have meant to them.

One of the students was Yvon Woappi, a biology major from Hanover. “He was very well-spoken, and I was very touched by his situation,” Foerstner said. “Listening to that student – that’s why I did it.”

For more information on the Thomas Scholarship Challenge, contact Joelle Warner, manager of donor services, at jaw104@pitt.edu or (814)362-5104.

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