A. Stuart Hanson, M.D., had three goals before heading off to college: get a good education; go to a small, liberal arts school in a rural area; and play basketball. So when Dartmouth College offered him a scholarship that would let him achieve all that, it was a dream come true.
Hanson went to Dartmouth on a four-year scholarship that covered his tuition and books. The support was invaluable to a middle-class kid from South Minneapolis, and he never forgot it.
“I think the day you receive a scholarship, you have a desire to give back,” says Hanson, who recently retired after a lifelong career as a pulmonologist with Park Nicollet Clinic in Minneapolis. “So that’s what I’m doing.”
Hanson recently gave a generous amount to establish a scholarship for the University of Minnesota Medical School, from which he graduated in 1963, while his wife, Gail Hanson, a retired teacher and education administrator, made an equivalent gift to create a scholarship for the University’s College of Education and Human Development.
The Hansons understand the pressures today’s college students face and the difference a scholarship can make in their lives. Stuart Hanson particularly understands the demands on Medical School students.
“Students shouldn’t have to work excessive hours outside school or go into severe debt to pay their tuition,” he says. “They need to focus on their education, and scholarships allow them to do that.”
The Hansons made their gifts under the Fast Start 4 Impact program, which — unlike traditional scholarship endowments — almost immediately provides funding to deserving students.
Typical endowment funds start small and grow over four years. Fast Start awards students scholarships right away, in an amount roughly equivalent to the payout of a fully established fund. After four years, the new endowment fund takes over and continues to help students far into the future.
It’s appealing to know that the scholarships will be used as soon as the money is given, the Hansons say.
Stuart Hanson also has challenged fellow Medical School classmates to raise $2 million to launch a scholarship fund for students of color. The goal is to achieve a class of medical students that reflects the state’s increasingly diverse population.
“We need to establish a scholarship fund that’s competitive with other schools, so there’s no economic reason for students from groups underrepresented in medicine to go to school out of state,” he says. “We want those students in Minnesota.”
By Mary Vitcenda