Entrepreneurial students at the University of Southern Maine’s School of Business will soon be the beneficiaries of a special scholarship award, established to reward students with special skills in honor of a local businessman.
Gene R. Cohen was the CEO of Portland Glass, taking the company’s reins in 1963 after the death of his father. He was instrumental in the growth and continued success of the company, expanding it from one store in Portland to 43 stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. After his untimely death in 1989 at the age of 47, his two sons, Scott (pictured) and Jonathan, began considering ways to honor their father’s legacy. Both graduates of George Washington University, Scott and Jonathan made a gift to encourage students with entrepreneurial pursuits in 1993. That gift was passed out in small scholarships and was an inspiration to other supporters, leading to additional gifts totaling over $4 million.
This year, Scott and Jonathan decided to make a similar investment at the University of Southern Maine. The Gene R. Cohen Entrepreneurial Scholarship at USM is an endowed fund that will be awarded to undergraduate students in the School of Business. This award is not dependent on financial need or grade point average, but rather intended for faculty and staff to identify and reward students who are engaged in entrepreneurial pursuits. Since Gene Cohen took night classes at USM, this seemed an especially fitting place to make an investment.
USM’s President, David Flanagan, said, "We are delighted the Gene R. Cohen Charitable Foundation has established this program at University of Southern Maine. This is a unique way to honor the creativity and innovation of USM's students who are promising entrepreneurs. This support can make a huge difference in someone's life, and is a wonderful tribute to one of Maine's most civic-minded business leaders."
Scott and Jonathan Cohen hope that this gift will also be a catalyst for others to provide support for the University of Southern Maine and its students. Since their father impacted the lives of many people in southern Maine, they plan to reach out to others in an effort to grow the funds available to students. Additionally, the Foundation’s gift asks recipients to sign a note of moral obligation regarding their willingness to contribute back to the Fund during their lifetime.
Scott Cohen said, “It is important to us that the recipients give back and we hope community members will also support USM students in this meaningful way. We hope this can be the gift that keeps giving for USM.”