The foundation will provide first-year funding of $50,000 for at least 12 scholarships targeted to:
- Students who have experienced a cumulative gap in their education of five years or more.
- Undergraduate students pursuing their first baccalaureate degree.
- Working students between the ages of 25 to 50.
- Students demonstrating financial need not necessarily listed on their federal student financial aid application.
- Students showing academic promise and a commitment to obtaining their degree.
"These grants are not intended for graduate students or students seeking an additional degree," said Andy Lynch, program officer at the Osher Foundation. "Preference should be given to newly matriculating students, and in the second year of the program and beyond, returning Osher Reentry Scholars who have reapplied and continue to meet all other criteria may be given preference as well.
Bernard Osher, a patron of education and the arts, established the foundation in 1977 to seek to improve the quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.
A native of Biddeford, Maine, and a graduate of Bowdoin College, Osher began his career managing his family's hardware and plumbing supply business in Biddeford, Maine, before joining Oppenheimer and Co. New York. He relocated to California and became the founding director of World Savings, the second largest savings institution in the United States, which was sold to Wachovia Corp. in 2006.
A collector of American paintings of the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries, Osher purchased the fine art auction house of Butterfield & Butterfield in 1970 and oversaw its growth to become the fourth largest auction house in the world. In 1999, he sold the company to eBay.
Osher currently serves as president of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Foundation and vice-chair of the American Himalayan Foundation. He is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
"We are honored to be working with the Osher Foundation to help reach a segment of students who are thinking about returning to school to finish a degree but need a financial helping hand to get back into the classroom. This program will help them do that," said Laurie Ann Ross, corporate and foundation relations officer in the UALR Office of Development.