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A monumental gift to mortuary science

Alumnus’s gift establishes a ‘full-ride’ scholarship as mortuary science celebrates its centennial

Alumnus Leo Hodroff has given the University of Minnesota’s Program of Mortuary Science an early birthday present: $200,000 to establish the Leo A. Hodroff Scholarship in the 100-year-old program—the nation’s oldest. His contribution is the program’s largest gift ever and possibly the largest gift supporting mortuary science scholarships anywhere.

Since graduating from the Program of Mortuary Science more than 70 years ago, Hodroff has contributed immensely to the mortuary science profession and to his community. The family’s Twin Cities mortuaries, Hodroff and Sons Chapels, have helped countless bereaved families and friends find comfort while honoring those who have died.

Hodroff, who made the gift last December, attributes much of his success to his education at the University, and for more than 40 years he has supported initiatives, such as lectureships, that ensure that aspiring morticians receive similar opportunities for a world-class education.

Now, with funding from the President’s Scholarship Match—a University program that matches the payout of new scholarships established with gifts totaling $25,000 or more—the Hodroff Scholarship will be the first in the nation to provide a “full ride” to a new mortuary science student. Recipients will receive nearly $40,000 during their two-year training program as they earn their bachelor of science degree in mortuary science.

The scholarship, which will be awarded every two years, is especially meaningful because current undergraduates complete their University of Minnesota studies with an average debt of nearly $25,000.

Michael LuBrant, director of the Program of Mortuary Science, is thrilled by Hodroff’s commitment. He shares Hodroff’s hope that this monumental gift will inspire others to support mortuary science scholarships at the University and that, eventually, the scholarship will provide full tuition for a new recipient every year.

As LuBrant reflects on Hodroff’s generosity, he is reminded of the ancient Hebrew words that Hodroff chose for a plaque hanging in the mortuary science program’s new teaching center, established in honor of Hodroff’s late father, Abraham Hodroff: “Learning must be sought; it will not come of itself.”

“Because of Leo Hodroff’s great generosity,” LuBrant says, “a seeker of knowledge will have access to a college education. What an incredible gift for advancing knowledge and uplifting the human spirit.”

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