Five Year Scholarship Effort Pays Off

February 3rd, 2006 by Adam

It took them five years of fundraising, but the operating staff of Plymouth State have raised $5,000 to endow a scholarship at the University. Now they are preparing to make their first scholarship award.

“Our group wanted to do something for the students,” says Debbie Underwood, of Campton, who is the administrative assistant for the residential life office. “We wanted to give back to the students who have given so much to us. We’ve all worked with student workers in our offices and we’ve developed close relationships. A lot of them need financial aid.”

Underwood is a member of the Operating Staff Scholarship Committee, along with Diane Tillotson, senior business services assistant in the advancement office; Fran Bean, administrative assistant in the admission office (both of Plymouth); and Wendy Burnham of Rumney, administrative assistant in the mathematics department.

At Plymouth State, the term “operating staff” covers a wide variety of positions, from clerical workers to buildings and grounds crews. “We have a different relationship with the students, than, say, the faculty,” says Tillotson, explaining that staff know students from their offices or dorms rather than the classroom.

Since 2000, the operating staff have been holding fundraising events like the annual Thanksgiving turkey raffle, bake sales, craft sales, even a car wash to raise money for this scholarship. Tillotson points out that these events raised about half the money they needed, with the rest coming from direct donations to the fund. She says, “We’ve received a lot of support from people on campus and in the community,” citing donations from Sodexho, the Silver Center for the Arts and local businesses, among others, for the fundraising events.

To be considered for the scholarship, students must be returning students (sophomore or higher), New Hampshire residents and in good academic standing. The committee is now accepting nominations from PSU operating staff members. Nominated students will need to fill in an application form and submit it by March 17. The nomination and application forms are available online at

“This year we’re going to make one award of $400 at spring convocation on May 19,” says Tillotson. “We’re going to continue with our fundraising to increase the endowment.”

For more information, contact Diane Tillotson at (603) 535-2592 or

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