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New Endowed Funds Benefit Student-Veterans

Two Alumni Support New Vets


“They’ve earned something more than a handshake and a ‘Thanks’ from me.”

That’s how William Darling ’93 describes his decision to endow a new scholarship to benefit student-veterans in the Manning School of Business. He could also be speaking for Ken Classon ’71, who created a similar scholarship in the Francis College of Engineering — and for UMass Lowell as a whole, which has developed a national reputation for its strong support of student-veterans.

After earning his degree in business administration from UMass Lowell on an ROTC scholarship, Darling served as an Army officer stationed stateside and in Korea and Honduras, and then as civilian contractor in Afghanistan.

Classon served in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 to 1966, and his education at Lowell Technological Institute was made possible by support from the G.I. Bill and the commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

“Much of my success in life stemmed from the engineering education I received at Lowell Tech,” says Classon, who retired in 2014 after a four-decade career with the Bechtel Corporation. “Setting up an endowed scholarship with my wife, Louise, was an excellent way to support UMass Lowell and at the same time to help veterans.” 

Another innovative endowed fund provides interest-free loans to UMass Lowell student-vets who experience financial emergencies. Since it was created in 2012 by members of Squadron N-12 (the Lowell chapter of the National Honor Society of Pershing Rifles), the Pershing Fund has provided $42,000 in loans. 

While veterans receive government support for their education, “their checks don’t always arrive in time to pay tuition and other expenses,” notes Brig. Gen. Gary Connor ’78, ’80, a Pershing Fund supporter. “Loans from the Pershing Fund can mean the difference between a student-veteran staying in school, or quitting and finding work to make ends meet. And because many of our veterans are supporting a spouse and children while earning their degree, these loans can impact entire families.”  

The Pershing Fund currently stands at $150,000, over $100,000 of which has been raised since the Pershing Rifles 50th Reunion in 2014. Connor and other organizers hope to raise that total to $250,000. For more information, contact Philip Cunningham, director of development, at 978-934-4618.