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​Robert H. Walsh ’39 & ’66Hon.

Walsh Bequest to Fund Endowed Chair, Academic Enrichment in Sciences

An alumnus’s $6.5 million bequest, announced during St. Dominic Weekend, will fund scholarships, academic enrichment, and Providence College’s first endowed academic chair in the sciences. 

Robert H. Walsh ’39 & ’66Hon., who died last year, is one of the College’s leading donors. He was named a Platinum Torchbearer for gifts of $1 million and above in PC’s 1917 Society.

During Mr. Walsh’s lifetime, he established the Robert H. Walsh Scholarship Fund and the Robert H. Walsh ’39 Academic Fund. Through his bequest, he endowed a new professorship in chemistry and biochemistry and added money to the existing funds to support research and student and faculty development in the chemical and biological sciences. Each fund will total more than $2 million when the final distribution of Mr. Walsh’s estate is complete.

Mr. Walsh graduated from PC with degrees in business and chemistry and worked at the DuPont Chemical Corp. for 40 years, founding its elastomers department.

But he never forgot the generosity of the late Rev. Frederick C. Hickey, O.P., then chair of the Department of Chemistry and later, vice president of community affairs. The Dominican allowed Mr. Walsh to work on campus as a lab attendant to pay his tuition, said Joseph P. Brum ’68, special assistant to the president for development projects in the Office of Institutional Advancement.

“He credited Father Hickey with his success not only as a great teacher,” Brum said. “Father Hickey went out of his way to help with the job in the lab and as a mentor.”

In 1996, Mr. Walsh established his scholarship fund for chemistry majors with financial need. That year, the College honored Mr. Walsh, the late Samuel J. Chester ’34 & ’94Hon., and the late Rev. Charles V. Reichart, O.P. ’32, by dedicating the Albertus Magnus Science Complex to them.

Brum met with Mr. Walsh regularly at his homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania, often accompanied by presidents or other officials from the College. Mr. Walsh, an excellent cook, would make his guests lunch and leave them with handwritten notes on legal pads full of ideas on how to improve academic programs at PC.

“He was always giving us advice to help the College,” Brum said.

One of those ideas was his academic fund, which supports student and faculty enrichment outside of the classroom, such as travel to academic conferences. Brum said he wanted students to get “real-world experiences, so once they get their degree, they can get a job.”

Learning through research

Dr. Paul T. Czech, professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department, said his colleagues and he hope to provide more research opportunities for students through summer stipends for faculty and students as well as the financial support to present the results of their work at scientific meetings.

The department also plans to purchase chemicals and equipment for students to work on research projects for credit --- opportunities that are available for the first time this academic year.

Hilary Chase ’13 (South Sandwich, Mass.), a Walsh Scholarship recipient and president of PC’s American Chemical Society/Phi Chi chapter, said she appreciates the donations from Mr. Walsh. “I’m just proud that he has put all this effort into our education, particularly in the chemistry field,” she said, particularly grateful for the opportunity to travel to chemistry conferences.

“For students in the future, this scholarship will pay off,” Chase said. At these meetings, “You take away so much new knowledge and experience by attending different talks, presenting your own research, and by interacting with other scientists in different aspects of chemistry.”

— Liz F. Kay

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