Monday, June 20, 2011
Travel fund provides enriching experiences for students
Bernie and Nina Kent love talking to Oakland University students who have studied in Israel with their help.
They have met a number of these students during the post-trip get-togethers that the Kents have hosted since creating the Bernard and Nina Kent Judaic Studies Endowed Israel Travel Fund in 2008.
“Many of them felt it was a life-changing experience, very transformative,” says Bernie Kent, SBA ’71.
Students on the digs were up by 4 a.m. to start working by 6 or 7 a.m. After a break from the heat of the afternoon, they’d be back on the dig after dusk.
“It’s really hard work in that sense, but they loved it,” Kent says, noting the students were eager to share their stories.
It’s rich experiences like these — opportunities to witness Israeli culture, politics and history first hand — that the Kents had in mind for OU students when they established their travel fund.
Late last year, the Kents empowered the travel fund to touch even more lives by contributing an additional $25,000, bringing the fund total to $50,000.
For a number of students, steep expenses would make studying abroad impossible without the Kents’ fund, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ronald Sudol says.
“The generous endowment from Bernie and Nina Kent provides an exceptional opportunity for future generations of Oakland University students to travel to and study in Israel,” Sudol says. “Such opportunities are among the most potent elements of a liberal education.”
The Kents’ fund targets students in OU’s Judaic Studies minor, part of the Religious Studies program.
Kent supports the minor further as chairman of the university’s Judaic Studies Community Committee. He also is involved in fund raising for the minor.
Judaic Studies has seen significant growth since it was established, Kent says. “There are about 200 students in the minor now,” he says. “Maybe it will become a major one day.”
Last fall, Kent was honored for his efforts on behalf of the university. He was recognized at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual Philanthropy Day dinner as a Distinguished Volunteer of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I have attended those dinners with past honorees,” Kent says. “I felt honored to be one of them.”
Kent says he intends to continue supporting the university. “I plan on making a bequest that will triple the size of the endowment.”
That support will be important, in light of inflation, to keep the fund operational for future generations, he says.
“The generous endowment from Bernie and Nina Kent provides an exceptional opportunity for future generations of Oakland University students.”
- Dean Ronald Sudol