Blaisdell, Northwest, BEF make challenge to start Dean Evans Legacy Fund

If $200,000 is raised for the new Dean Evans Legacy Fund by next June, the Blaisdell Foundation, Northwest Bank and the Bradford Education Foundation will join forces to contribute $200,000 more.


Northwest, the Blaisdell Foundation and BEF issued the challenge shortly after Pitt-Bradford created the new fund in honor of retiring Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Dr. K. James Evans.


The endowed fund will provide additional resources to promising students who run into unanticipated financial difficulties that can prevent them from returning the following semester


“I would never want any student not to be able to come back because of finances,” said Ron Orris, executive director of the Philo and Sarah Blaisdell Foundation.


As members of the Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board, both Orris and Julie Marasco, regional president of northwest Pennsylvania for Northwest Bank, heard a report this spring about students who cannot afford to pay off their accounts and register for a new semester.


The pair sought out Jill Dunn, executive director of institutional advancement at Pitt-Bradford and managing director of BEF, to see how their organizations could help students at risk of dropping out because of finances.


Marasco said, “These students are very deserving, and we want to do what we can to get them to graduate.”


Across the country, the rising cost of college and stagnant wages have put the squeeze on families. In recent years, changes in federal and state programs have made less money available for low-income students as well.


During the fall semester, 58 students will end the year unable to make up their shortfall, said Dr. James Baldwin, vice president for enrollment management.


Melissa Ibanez, associate vice president of enrollment management and director of financial aid, gave an example of how one student still came up short.


After filling out financial aid forms, the government determined that her family, a single working mother with siblings at home, did not qualify to take out parent loans. The student received federal and campus-based grants, a donor scholarship and a merit scholarship. She took out subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans. The student's mother is making payments, but the student still has more than $1,000 to make up before she can register for the next semester.


Baldwin said that students from low-income families are eight times less likely than their peers are to earn a bachelor's degree. “Financial aid can play a huge role in narrowing that gap,” he said.


“I am extremely grateful to the Blaisdell Foundation, Northwest Bank, and the Bradford Educational Foundation for providing their support in funding this new endowment,” Evans said.


“The fact that my name will be associated with a fund that will help so many deserving students continue their educations by providing them with necessary funds is both humbling and heartwarming. I can think of no better investment in the future than to help talented young people, who will soon become our nation's leaders and workforce, reach their educational goals.” 


Dr. Livingston Alexander, president of Pitt-Bradford, said, “I'm confident that associating Dr. Evans' name with this Fund will inspire many former students and friends of the University to provide support for this worthy cause


“Once again, great local companies and organizations, in this case, Northwest Bank, the Blaisdell Foundation and the Bradford Educational Foundation, have stepped forward to address a problem that needs to be solved. We're deeply grateful for their willingness to move the initiative forward.”


The Bradford Educational Foundation is a private foundation with the mission to receive, administer, and distribute property exclusively in connection with and for the benefit of the Bradford campus of the University of Pittsburgh through grants for various academic, educational, cultural, sports and recreation programs.


To contribute toward the Dean Evans Legacy Fund, contact Dunn at or (814)362-5091.