UMass Amherst Alumnus Creates Scholarship Fund for Students at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School

AMHERST, Mass. - Peabody Veterans Memorial High School and the University of Massachusetts Amherst are cooperating in a scholarship program to send students from Peabody to UMass who might otherwise be unable to afford a college education.

The joint effort is being made possible by Peabody High School and UMass alumnus Frank R. O''Keefe Jr., who is establishing the Frank R. and Patricia F. O''Keefe Endowed Scholarship Fund, named for himself and his wife, with a gift of $500,000 by Mr. O''Keefe through the Aetna Inc. Director Charitable Award Program. The gift will be given over a period of 10 years.

Beginning in the fall of 2000, the fund will provide four-year scholarships to one or more eligible students from Peabody High School to cover tuition, fees, and books. The student selection process will be coordinated between the University''s Financial Aid Office and the principal of Peabody High School, Mr. Joseph Patuleia. At UMass, students must maintain "a proper level of scholarship" to remain eligible, according to Mr. O''Keefe. "We want to make sure the students stay in academic good standing, but, we also realize that sometimes a student will have a bad semester or a tough course. We will give them a little lee-way to get back on track," Mr. O''Keefe said.

He also said that the relationship between UMass and Peabody High School will be very interactive, with Peabody High School being kept informed of the progress of its scholarship students.

"We are elated with this particular gift and with this type of scholarship program," principal Patuleia said. "I hope this gift encourages other alumni to give back to their high schools where even modest gifts can have an immediate impact." Approximately 1,700 students attend grades 9-12 at Peabody High.

"I grew up in Peabody and would like to help the sons and daughters of my hometown," Mr. O''Keefe said. He is the son of the late Frank and Mary O''Keefe and graduated from Peabody High School in 1947. He went on to attend UMass, graduating in 1951 with a bachelor''s degree in economics. He served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-53, after which he joined the General Electric Co., where he held a number of managerial positions over a period of 20 years.

Mr. O''Keefe was president of the Robert Bosch Corp., Broadview, Ill., from 1977-80. In 1980 he was named president of Armtek Corp., New Haven, Conn. (formerly known at the Armstrong Rubber Co.). He was named chairman and CEO of Armtek in February 1986, and retired in 1988.

He served on the Board of Directors at Armtek Corp., Insilco Corp., Southern New England Telecommunications Co., United Illuminating Co., Aetna Inc., and Echlin Inc.

For a number of years, he collaborated with several other UMass alumni in top executive positions to hold on-location seminars for UMass students in the School of Management. He received the SOM''s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1985. In 1983, he was selected as Distinguished Corporate Executive by Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa. In 1988, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of New Haven.

Mrs. O''Keefe is a native of Schenectady, N.Y., and received a graduate nursing degree from Russell Sage College-Ellis Hospital School of Nursing. She received a B.S. in nursing from Madonna College, and an M.S. in public health nursing from Ohio State University.

The O''Keefes now live in Vero Beach, Fla.

Royster C. Hedgepeth, vice chancellor for university advancement at UMass, said: "The University is very thankful for the O''Keefe gift. It is wonderful to see an alumnus provide access to education for others from his hometown. This gift really illustrates how the value of education reaches far beyond the individual and how it can help others for generations to come."