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                                       politics + culture

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Brooke Astor: a thank you

Brooke Astor died today at 105. Through the Vincent Astor Foundation she contributed to my education at Columbia University:

Columbia University has received a $1 million gift from the Vincent Astor Foundation of New York. The fund will provide financial assistance to 40 needy undergraduate students a year.

The foundation's director, Lillian Gillies, said her organization did not generally support higher education, but in this case the scholarship money was donated because of the Reagan Administration's reductions of Federal funds for student aid. Mrs. Gillies said the only condition was that the money be made available to Columbia College students in any area of study.

The gift will be known as the Astor Presidential Scholars Fund and be part of the Presidential Fellows program that was established earlier this year to encourage outstanding scholars to pursue degrees. The first such fellow was Barry Rosen, the former hostage in Iran.

I expressed my gratitude to Mrs. Astor in letters when she was alive. I think it's fitting to acknowledge her assistance to me and other undergraduates in Ronald Reagan's 1980s at this moment, and to acknowledge Mrs. Astor's lifetime of giving and commitment to the people of the city of New York.

Brooke Astor made a profound difference in the lives of so many in a city she deeply loved.

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