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Anonymous donor’s gift will help UM students overcome hardships

A $200,000 donation from an anonymous donor names the Patricia A. Whitely Student Emergency Fund

A special emergency fund created to help University of Miami students overcome short-term hardships has received a significant boost from an anonymous donor that not only ensures the reserve’s existence for years to come but also gives it a new name.

The anonymous donor’s $200,000 gift will allow UM to continue to assist students who need help with emergency matters such as paying for temporary housing, books, and other unforeseen expenses. It also gives a name to the special fund, now called the Patricia A. Whitely Student Emergency Fund, after the vice president for student affairs who is often at the forefront of helping students in crisis.

A $35,000 pledge created the fund five years ago, and since that time, donations of various amounts have helped keep the reserve at that level. Now, this latest endowment will perpetuate it.

“Over the years, it’s been used to handle everything from putting parents in hotel accommodations to be with a son or daughter who may have been in an accident to helping students buy books or get dental work,” says Whitely, whose office aids in administering the fund. “We’ve had students who needed food or a place to live. The fund is a tremendous help.”

One of the reasons the anonymous donor made the gift in Whitely’s honor was to acknowledge the vice president’s leadership and recent Pillars of the Profession Award from Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

But Whitely, who says she is “deeply humbled and honored” by the gift being named in her honor, credits her entire staff and other University leaders for making the welfare of students the institution’s top priority.

“Everyone from the president to faculty members, deans, and social workers have, in the past, found out about students in need and informed us so that we could help,” says Whitely. “In the end, we want to keep students at the University academically successful. And if there are barriers to their success, then we’re going to help.”

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