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After 20 Years, a Face-to-Face Thanks
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
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Lori Joseph-Malitsky ’87 overcame some extraordinary challenges to make it to her senior year at Bentley. The death of her father, when she was 22 years old, left the family’s ventilation equipment business with no one in charge. While her first impulse was to shut the company’s doors, the orders kept coming – and she found the strength to take on her father’s role.
After three years at the helm of Sunvent Industries, Joseph-Malitsky enrolled full time at Bentley. Classes and the commute from her home in New Hampshire filled the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; she devoted 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. to business operations. It was a difficult schedule, but she made it work. Then Joseph-Malitsky found herself $1,000 short for tuition in her sixth and final year of school.
“I was working full time and paying my own way,” she remembers. “I had taken a loan, I did everything I could.”
Lacking the time-flexibility to cover the gap through a financial aid work–study position, Joseph-Malitsky visited the Bentley Development Office. The life raft she discovered was the John and Ruth Coleman Scholarship Fund.
“I hadn’t known there was such a thing as a scholarship: money that you didn’t have to pay back,” says the alumna, who went on to earn a BS in Accountancy. Her contact with the Coleman family might have ended with the thank-you letter she sent, but for a mutual interest in supporting Bentley.
In the years since graduation, Joseph-Malitsky has taken the family company to 25 times the size it was, with real estate holdings joining the core vent business. Her son, Eric, is now a Bentley freshman. And regular support for college has put Joseph-Malitsky in the ranks of President’s Club donors – a distinction shared with John Coleman ’48.
When club members gathered on campus last fall, a Bentley staff person who knew of the scholarship connection introduced the pair. “It was wonderful to meet in person after all these years,” says Joseph-Malitsky, who received a Class Champion award for her contributions to Alumni Weekend in October. “That gift helped me through a very tough time.”
Coleman, a trustee emeritus, has long been committed to providing need-based aid. The scholarship fund that he established in 1978 is the largest at Bentley. “Lori was exactly the type of person the fund was intended to help,” he says. “The fund is there to put people on a ladder they would not otherwise be able to climb.”
A World War II veteran, Coleman attended Bentley with support from the G. I. Bill. His 40-year career in public accounting included serving as a managing partner in several top accounting firms and as an independent financial consultant. Crediting the extra help that eased his own entry “on the ladder,” he wanted current students to have the same kind of opportunity.
“I wanted a scholarship fund,” says Coleman, who lives with wife Ruth in Milton, Mass. “As I always said to the trustees, the money is there to be spent.”
Through Lori Joseph-Malitsky and scores of other scholarship recipients who needed a boost, money well spent has created a lasting legacy.