HOLYOKE – Holyoke Community College received $ 7.5 million from a foundation founded by the late Elaine Nicpon Marieb, longtime faculty member, alumni, bestselling textbook author and Northampton native.
It is the largest donation in HCC’s 74-year history and may be the largest donation ever received from a community college in Massachusetts. College announced the gift on Monday.
The money is expected to go to a future renovation project at the HCC scientific facility called the Marieb Building, where the first floor has already been renovated following a gift from Marieb before her death.
The first floor of the Marieb Building, called the Center for Life Sciences, was opened in the autumn of 2018, said college spokesman Chris Yurko. It has a state-of-the-art microbiology and biotechnology laboratory and an ISO certified teaching cleanroom.
Monday’s donation, pending approval by the board of trustees, will likely be used to renovate the second floor, which houses the college’s veterinary technician program, kennel and surgical unit, as well as anatomy labs and physiology.
No date has been set for the project, said Yurko. It would be the second in a three-phase rehabilitation of the three-story building.
“This is electrifying,” said Christina Royal, president of HCC, in a press release. “We are honored and incredibly grateful for the generous and unprecedented gift of the Marieb Foundation. This will support HCC’s continued investment in high demand and high wages sectors in STEM and healthcare and will help us provide generations of students with academic space and the experience they need and deserve. The Marieb Building represents the heart of her life’s work, since HCC is the starting point of her career “.
“This gift is a testament to the importance of community colleges in the lives of their students,” said Carlos Santiago, commissioner of the Department of State Higher Education. “Under the leadership of President Royal, HCC must be congratulated on raising the bar for the community college philanthropy that will benefit all of our public institutions.”
Marieb, who passed away in 2018, was the primary benefactor of college during her lifetime. He donated over $ 1.5 million in large and small amounts, including a $ 1 million gift in 2014 to support the construction of the Center for Life Sciences and Center for Health Education & Simulation.
The biggest gift from Holyoke Community College so far was a donation from the pupil and Yankee Candle Co. founder Michael Kittredge. Kittredge, who passed away in 2019, donated $ 1 million in 2003 to set up the Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development.
The biggest previous gift to any college in the Massachusetts community was a $ 5 million donation to Cape Cod Community College in January 2019, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy online database.
Last year, the Marieb Foundation made a $ 1 million legacy gift to HCC that Marieb had instituted as part of her estate plan. The money went to programs for the benefit of non-traditional age students, especially women.
Marieb began working at Holyoke Community College in 1969 as a professor of biology after earning a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State College, a master’s degree from Mount Holyoke College and a doctorate in zoology from the University of Massachusetts.
He started writing textbooks on anatomy and physiology to respond to complaints from his nursing students that the available materials were ineffective. To inform her, she enrolled in the HCC nursing program and graduated with an associate degree in 1980.
She retired in 1993 to devote herself to writing, and has been the author or co-author of over 10 successful textbooks and laboratory manuals in anatomy and physiology.
In 2016, Marieb was ranked seventh on Time magazine’s list of “100 most read female writers in college classes”, right behind writer Mary Frankelle “Frankenstein” and beating George Eliot, Alice Walker, Charlotte Bronte and others.
Former HCC president David Bartley introduced her as Stephen King of anatomy and physiology, according to the press release.
College in September completed a two-year, $ 43.5 million rehab period in the center of the campus and in the dining room. Governor Charlie Baker formally opened the new center in late February.