Professor Aims to Lift Students’ Financial Burden

Photo of Professor Linda Kauffman and her husband, David Gray
Professor Linda Kauffman and her husband, David Gray

Professor Linda Kauffman knows all the ways that students scrimp and save to find enough money to stay in school.

During nearly 30 years with the English Department, this Distinguished Scholar-Teacher says she worked closely with “numerous students who, in addition to academic pressures, were struggling to make ends meet.”

As she approached retirement, that reality spurred her and her husband, David Gray, to establish two funds via a bequest: the Linda Kauffman Endowed Scholarship for English Majors and the Linda Kauffman Endowed Dissertation Summer Research Award.

“I heard many stories from Linda about the plight of students she mentored. In one case, a sickly-looking student was trying to cut costs by skimping on food,” says Gray.

In response, both the need-based scholarship for undergraduates and the summer research award for doctoral students aim to ensure that financial challenges do not prevent talented students from pursuing their educational goals.

Kauffman’s experience at UC Santa Barbara informs her giving to Maryland: providing Terp students “with the same opportunities that I’d been given: mentors who cared and financial aid administrators who helped me scrape the money together to complete a BA and later a PhD.”

Now retired from teaching, she has a new book under way, Material Witnesses: Transnational Texts for Our Times. “It has already involved considerable international travel to give lectures and do research, and I look forward to more,” she says.

For her husband, supporting Maryland students is not too far of a stretch from the time he spent doing scientific research as a toxicologist and providing testimony that contributed to one of the largest environmental settlements in history: “As with Linda, I see philanthropy as a natural extension of a career devoted to public service.”

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