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Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust endows scholarship program at the Hotel School

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has announced a $2 million gift to endow the Helmsley Scholarship at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration. The scholarship will provide tuition support to approximately 10 undergraduate students each year.

"We extend our deepest gratitude to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for this extraordinarily generous gift," says Michael Johnson, dean of the school. "Financial aid is crucial to ensure that we maintain a diverse and talented student body that is prepared to serve our school and our industry. This gift will provide a tremendous lift as we work to meet that need."

More than 60 percent of students at Cornell's Hotel School currently receive some form of financial aid. Under the prospect of continuing economic uncertainty, school officials expect that the demand for aid will only grow.

"Our school must continue to attract new funding for scholarships," Johnson adds. "That is the only way we can honor Cornell's historical commitment to need-blind admissions, secure the future of our students and redirect resources to advance the school's many other initiatives."

Johnson also expressed gratitude to Takis Anoussis, general manager of the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel in New York City. A 1967 graduate of the Hotel School, Anoussis championed this generous commitment to Cornell and to future leaders of the hospitality industry.

Unrestricted support is critically important, in challenging times

At a time when philanthropists increasingly seek hands-on involvement with how their gifts are used, Tom Groos '78 adopts a different philosophy.

Tom Groos '78

Tom Groos '78

"My fundamental thinking is that unrestricted giving allows people to achieve the goals of the organization most effectively," says Groos, chairman of the Viking Group and a partner of City Light Capital. "If I believe in the leadership of the organization, it's better off for me to let them make those decisions."

Groos has done just that over the course of many years, during which he has made gifts to the Cornell Annual Fund totaling more than $177,000.

Groos' ongoing trust in Cornell's leadership is based on his family's past and current experience. His Cornell connections span nearly a century and include his paternal grandfather, Richard A. Groos '14, along with his parents, two siblings and, now, his son, Nicholas T. Groos '09.

"My son is in the earth sciences program in geophysics," he says. "I've just been blown away by the depth that he's gotten out of his experience there. My own experience at Cornell was very rich and rewarding, and I think he's getting more out of it than I did."

Unrestricted support like Groos' is critically important during a time when Cornell's finances have been hit by cuts in state funding, a decline in new gifts for capital projects and a sharp reduction in endowment income, says Maya Gasuk, director of the Cornell Annual Fund.

"Gifts to the Annual Fund are absolutely essential because it gives deans and directors the flexibility to apply funds where they are needed most," she says.

The Annual Fund enjoyed its best year ever in fiscal year 2008, bringing in $21.8 million.

"Maintaining that level is important both for the current-year support to compensate for a reduced endowment, but also to help bridge other funding demands that are happening across campus," says Gasuk.

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