College receives $2 million donation for financial aid, largest in history

In July, Emerson College received the largest gift in the financial aid department’s history: $2 million from Leo Hindery Jr. and wife, Patti Wheeler Hindery. The donation will predominantly go to financial aid and to helping students take part in activities they could not afford on their own. 

“[President Pelton] has the exact same goals for Emerson as I have and my wife has for the industry as a whole,” said Leo Hindery. “Emerson is the best place in America for young women and men who are interested in media.”

Of the $2 million, $1.75 million will go directly to need-based financial aid, establishing the Hindery Family Endowed Scholarship Fund.  According to Vice President for Enrollment MJ Knoll-Finn, the Hinderys wanted the scholarship funds to help students who will be the first in their families to attend college, and the Office of Financial Aid will do their best to respect that wish.

Another $200,000 will go to helping students afford co-curricular activities in an education enhancement fund, according to Jeffrey Schoenherr, vice president for development and alumni relations.  The fund will help students make films, travel to conferences, and even study in Los Angeles or at Kasteel Well, the college’s European Center, said Schoenherr.  

Students will be able to apply for money with an online form each semester and advocate for what they need and why they need it, according to Schoenherr.

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The remaining $50,000 will go into the Emerson College Annual Fund over the next five years. 

Leo Hindery received an honorary degree from Emerson in 2003 for his work in the media. He founded InterMedia Partners in 1988, was the president and CEO of Tele-Communications Inc., became the CEO of AT&T Broadband after a merger between TCI and AT&T, and was the CEO of The YES Network from 2001 to 2004. 

Leo Hindery has also received the Joel A. Berger Award Asia Society’s Founders Award, the National Action Network’s Dream Award, the Hispanic Federation’s Individual Achievement Award and the Common Cause John Gardner Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Patti Wheeler Hindery has been the executive vice president of programming and production at SPEED channel since 2010 and founded Wheeler Television Inc., a television production company specializing in sports. 

Knoll-Finn is optimistic that this will not be the last gift of its kind.  

“My hope is that this really starts some momentum, because we need the momentum,” she said.  “We need people to give to financial aid and we need good people like him.”