Scholarship Established at UMass Amherst in Honor of Springfield Educator, Labor Leader Meline Kasparian

AMHERST, Mass. - The Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), in conjunction with the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP), is establishing a new scholarship at the University of Massachusetts honoring the memory of former MTA president Meline Kasparian. The scholarship fund, which will support students who wish to pursue a career in public education, is worth more than $100,000, and will be announced Wed. Dec. 8 at noon at Hillside, the chancellor''s home on campus. UMass Chancellor David K. Scott, UMass School of Education Dean Bailey W. Jackson, MTA President Stephen Gorrie, and MSP President Jane Giacobbe will be in attendance.

"This scholarship will help to keep Meline''s wonderful and inspirational legacy alive by supporting talented future educators who might not otherwise have the chance to pursue a career in education," says MTA President Gorrie.

Kasparian was born in Methuen, Mass., and worked as a teacher in Springfield for 25 years. She was a community activist and labor leader and worked closely with the Black Repertory Theatre at UMass. She also was president of the Springfield Education Association from 1987-94; served on the MTA board of directors from 1989-91; was elected to serve on the MTA''s executive committee from 1991-94; was elected vice president of the MTA in 1994; and was elected MTA president in 1996. She died in August 1997 after a battle with cancer.

"As president of the MTA, Meline was an outspoken proponent of public education," says MTA Vice President Catherine Boudreau. "She was unrelenting in her efforts to achieve the highest quality public education for our state''s students."

Recipients of the scholarship will be selected by the dean of the UMass School of Education from a list of nominees provided each year by the Kasparian Scholarship Committee. Financial need will be given special consideration in evaluating applicants for the scholarship. The initial $108,592 endowment for the fund is the result of initial gifts from MTA, MSP, and the Public Higher Education Endowment Incentive Program (PHEEIP).

"This is a perfect tribute to such a dedicated educator who inspired so many in life and a scholarship in her name will now help inspire new generations of educators," says Mary Fletcher, Executive Director of the MSP.