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Widener University Granted $1 Million to Assist Adult Learners

Widener University has been awarded a $1 million endowment and a one-time $50,000 bridge grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation through its Reentry Scholarship Program. The endowment will help fund scholarships for adult students who have previously interrupted their educational studies for reasons beyond their control.

This $1 million endowment was preceded by three annual grants of $50,000 each, which in total have funded 41 scholarships for Widener adult students. Since 2007, The Bernard Osher Foundation has enabled Widener’s University College to provide financial assistance to adults who have the desire to complete their degree, removing a major obstacle to degree completion.

The $1 million endowment will continue to support up to 12 students each year who are returning to the collegiate classroom after a break of five or more years. Students are typically funded for one course their first semester, with the ability to renew for two courses during their second semester at Widener. Each year, several students are also able to renew their Osher Reentry Scholarship based on their need and academic standing. In many cases students become eligible for additional scholarships offered to adult students through Widener’s University College.

“This $1 million gift ensures the future of this very important scholarship program at Widener, which aids so many adult students,” said University College Dean Emily Richardson. “Especially at a time when many are facing economic challenges, it’s important for us to continue offering scholarships to help individuals earn their degree and become more competitive in the job market. We are grateful to the Osher Foundation for its continuous support of our students.”

Students selected as Osher Reentry Scholars must anticipate participation in the workforce for a significant period of time subsequent to graduation. They also must demonstrate a financial need and show academic promise and a commitment to obtaining their degree. Scholars may be either full- or part-time students in Widener’s University College. University College is the adult undergraduate college at Widener University, which offers students flexible scheduling with evening, weekend and online courses in their pursuit of associate and bachelor’s degrees. 

To apply, or for questions regarding Osher Reentry Scholarships, please contact Nikki Ritterbeck at 610-499-4282.

This gift comes at an ideal time for Widener, which launched, at the start of this academic year, “Taking the Lead ~The Campaign for Widener,” a $58 million, seven-year fundraising initiative. The campaign received a boost at the end of 2010 with another $1 million endowment from The Osher Foundation to support Widener’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) on its Exton Campus. The gift supports the Institute’s commitment to providing adults 50 years of age and older with opportunities for intellectual development, cultural stimulation, personal growth, civic engagement and social interaction.

The Osher Foundation 

The Bernard Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader. The Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. In addition to supporting a growing network of lifelong learning institutes located at about 120 colleges and universities across the country, the Foundation provides grants to selected institutions of higher education for postsecondary scholarships, with a current emphasis on meeting the needs of reentry and community college students. An array of performing arts organizations, museums and selected educational programs in Northern California and in Mr. Osher's native state of Maine also receive Foundation support. The Bernard Osher Foundation is chaired by the Honorable Barbro Osher, Consul General of Sweden in San Francisco.

Widener University 

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,700 students. Visit the university website,

Taking the Lead ~The Campaign for Widener 

In November 2010, Widener University announced the launch of “Taking the Lead ~The Campaign for Widener,” a $58 million, seven-year fundraising initiative to strengthen the university’s growing national reputation as an institution committed to leadership education, civic engagement, global awareness and academic excellence. The ambitious campaign, the largest in the university’s 189-year history, includes $46 million for the Main Campus in Chester, Pa., and $12 million for the School of Law, which has campuses in Wilmington, Del. and Harrisburg, Pa. To learn more, visit