Recession Angels: Millions in Anonymous Donations Flow to U.S. Colleges

Photo: Recession Angels: An anonymous donor gives $6 million to Southern Mississippi University

This recession has no lack of villains, from super scammers like Bernard Madoff, to executives who took multi-million dollar bonuses as their companies crumbled.

But there also are plenty of Americans who have done extraordinarily generous things.

Call them recession angels, people who have taken their own money and given it to employees and their communities just as everybody else has been cutting back.

VIDEO: Anonymous Donors Secret Scholarships

Watch this story on "World News" TONIGHT at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Not everyone is willing to take credit for their good deeds: In recent weeks, at least nine American universities have received donations of well more than $1 million each from anonymous donors, the Associated Press reported. The donations ranged in size from $1.5 million for the University of North Carolina-Asheville to $8 million for Purdue University in Indiana.

"We are just so overwhelmed by the generosity of this anonymous donor's gift," Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg told ABC News. "And it really reinforces, I think, the goodness of people that is just so uplifting for us."

At the University of Southern Mississippi -- which received $6 million from an anonymous donor in March -- the gift came in the nick of time.

David Wolf, USM's vice president for advancement, said that the recession and faltering stock market had forced the university to cut back on scholarships.

"A number of our endowed scholarships will not be able to produce this year any earnings to provide scholarships," he said. "The timing of this gift couldn't be any more meaningful to a university like ours so we could pick up the slack and continue to grow."

College students aren't the only ones to benefit from the generosity of recession angels. On the next page, you'll find more stories of acts of kindness during these tough times.

Hospital Execs, Docs Donate to Save Hospital Jobs

Paul Levy led the charge for donations to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to save jobs.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School in Boston, took a hard hit when the economy took a turn for the worst.

Just a few weeks ago, the hospital was planning to eliminate about 600 jobs in an effort to cut into a reported $20 million budget gap. But that was before the hospital's senior executives and several doctors stepped in to give up a lot of their cash for the cause. Now, the hospital plans to cut only 140 jobs, saving the other 460.

The executives, including the hospital's chief executive, Paul Levy, took massive pay cuts in a move that is projected to save $1.4 million, according to a report by The Boston Herald.

In his blog "Running a Hospital," Levy also noted donations by several doctors and members of the staff totaling $350,000, an amount that has already saved 10 jobs. Levy and his wife have personally offered to match donations to the hospital from the staff at a rate of 10 percent for a little "extra incentive."

"I know this is very distressing," Levy wrote in the blog. "In my view, we have two ways to respond. We can retreat into isolation from one another ... or, we can look within and find that the values which have guided our care of patients and families are also the same values that apply to our care for one another."

The response has been "phenomenal" so far, said Dr. Mary Ann Stevenson, chairwoman of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...