Fall River banker and philanthropist pledges $3M to colleges
Robert F. Stoico, philanthropist and former CEO of FIRSTFED, announced Wednesday that his charitable foundation is donating $1 million each to Bristol Community College, Roger Williams University and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
At each school, $750,000 will go toward capital projects and $250,000 toward scholarships.
Stoico, who also has given large donations to the Boys and Girls Club of Fall River and St. Anne’s Hospital, among others, said he had been thinking of donating to the schools for some time. He wanted to thank the schools for providing him with “tremendous employees.”
“We hope this grant will help shape the future of our region,” Stoico said. “I can think of no better investment than in a young person with dreams.”
The donations were made on behalf of the Robert F. Stoico/FIRSTFED Charitable Foundation, based in Swansea. Each of the three colleges plans to name a feature benefitting from the donation after Stoico.
UMass Dartmouth will create a reading room in the library out of a current open space on the first floor that overlooks the outdoor amphitheater, as part of a larger renovation and expansion plan for the Claire T. Carney Library. The reading room designed for many uses.
“This is a very important gift for UMass Dartmouth,” said Anthony J. Garro, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This is a major contribution toward meeting our fundraising goal of $6 million.”
Under the $10 million library renovation and expansion plan, which includes $4 million to be raised by the university, new space will be added between the library and the science and engineering lecture halls. There will also be a new Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives, a cafe, additional meeting spaces, a center for mentoring and consultation and a multi-phase renovation of current spaces.
The goal of $6 million in private donations is nearly accomplished.
Stoico’s donation to Roger Williams University will go toward a new $50 million academic building scheduled to open in fall 2009. The building will feature an interactive language center named after Stoico that will accommodate a rapidly increasing enrollment in international studies, said President Roy Nirschel.
Stoico has been “a great friend to the university” since he became a trustee after Nirschel showed him around campus five years ago and talked about building a vision for the university, the president said. In 2003, Stoico donated to the university to create a financial services center. Using the interactive center, Nirschel said, Roger Williams students are ranked third nationally in terms of investment.
“It will be a great resource for the campus community,” Nirschel said. “It’s important to be connected to the world.”
The new language center at the university will help Roger Williams work toward its goal of “learning to bridge the world,” Nirschel said. The university offers language programs in Arabic, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, which is overbooked, he said.
Bristol Community College will use Stoico’s donation to improve its business program, President Jack Sbrega said. The administration will work with the BCC foundation to decide exactly how the money will be spent.
“The money will be put to good use,” Sbrega said. He is especially grateful, he said, for the $250,000 for scholarships. With a year of full-time tuition costing $3,000, the donation will go a long way, Sbrega said.
Stoico led FIRSTFED for almost 30 years, from a small Fall River-area federal savings bank into a publicly traded corporation with more than 40 locations. The new Boys and Girls Club building is named after Stoico and the FIRSTFED Charitable Foundation. Stoico is a member of the club’s board of directors.
Stoico also recently contributed to a public computer lab at BCC’s New Bedford campus, the I.H. Schwartz Center for Children’s new headquarters in Dartmouth, and an animal exhibit at the Roger Williams Park Zoo.
E-mail Grant Welker at email@example.com.