Campus: San Francisco State University -- May 05, 2003

Husband, wife establish scholarships for fellow SFSU students

Donation of $25,000 doubles number of University Scholarships available for fall 2003

While most college students seek financial aid, a husband and wife taking classes at San Francisco State University are giving financial aid to their fellow students.

Concerned that the economic recession is making it difficult for many students to continue their studies and complete their degrees, Gary and Cynthia Bengier have donated $25,000 to SFSU to establish undergraduate scholarships of $1,000 each.

“The Bay Area has suffered disproportionately in this economic downturn and it has rippled through the entire economy,” said Gary Bengier, 48, former chief financial officer and senior vice president for eBay. “This has affected students who work part time and has made it harder for them to go to school full time.”

The Bengiers, who live in San Francisco’s Seacliff neighborhood, are retired from successful careers as executives in high technology and banking, respectively — but they are too young to join the American Association of Retired Persons.

With more than enough free time on their hands since retiring several years ago, Gary and Cynthia Bengier have enjoyed traveling and become active in the community, establishing an endowment scholarship fund at Kent State University — where Gary Bengier earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science — donating to various other organizations and causes, and serving on boards of directors.

The Bengiers, parents of a two children aged 22 and 6, also have decided to pursue their intellectual interests at SFSU. Gary Bengier, who earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, is taking courses in math and science. Cynthia Bengier, 46, a former Wells Fargo Bank vice president who earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from SFSU in 1978 followed by an MBA from New York University, is enrolled in the graduate program in history.

The Gary and Cynthia Bengier University Scholarships are part of the University Scholarship program. Their donation doubles the number of University Scholarships available for the fall semester from 25 to 50.

“The Bengiers’ donation responds to the current economic crisis and is especially important for San Francisco State, where many of our students are working and taking out student loans,” said Beverly Voloshin, professor of English and faculty coordinator for the SFSU Office of Academic Honors and Scholarships.

Contact: Matt Itelson (415) 338-1743; (415) 338-1665;

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