Marquette campus in the spring.

Paying It Forward for First-Gens: $1 Million Planned Scholarship Gift Will Open Doors

Photo of Barry C. Cosgrove

As a “poorer than poor” kid from 1970s Boston, Barry C. Cosgrove arrived at Marquette knowing he’d need help to cover tuition bills. He remembers inquiring about a tutoring job with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), a relatively new endeavor championed by Dr. Arnold Mitchem and President Emeritus Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., to support low-income, first-generation students.

Barry’s decision to support scholarship with his wife Ingrid will open doors for first-generation students.

“When I found out more, I said ‘Forget tutoring, I may be eligible for this,’ ” Barry recalls. “And sure enough, I was. That was the game-changer for me. It took all the financial stress away, and it gave me some of the biggest role models of my life.”

Barry credits EOP with teaching him about leadership, empathy, and concern for others.

“It took a lot of guts to put a program like this in place during a very complex time in U.S. history,” he says. “Mitchem and Raynor didn’t just want to say Marquette had underrepresented students, they wanted those students to become doctors, lawyers, congresswomen, and PhDs. It was a tremendous, daunting challenge and they pulled it off.”

Barry, a 1979 graduate and first-generation college student, was one of the founders of DaVita dialysis centers and currently serves as president, CEO, and chairman of Blackmore Partners, LLC. He is also one of the founding members of Marquette’s new President’s Advisory Council.

His success got him thinking about how he could give back and complete the circle of opportunity that had been extended to him as a student.

The answer came in the form of a $1 million planned gift to support students in the College of Business Administration and those majoring in journalism. Barry and his wife Ingrid named their scholarship in memory of Cosgrove’s mother—Marion Krug Cosgrove—whom Barry called the most influential person in his life for her decency, resiliency, and hard work.

“There is no way I could have gotten into or out of Marquette without the generosity of others,” Barry says. “Now, I’m happy to do the same for future students. My hope is that my funds provide low-income, first-generation students the chance to build their confidence and skills. After all, their dreams are just as important and achievable as those who are fortunate to grow up in a more privileged environment.”

“Those who most often get caught in the struggle of higher education costs are the same students who most need a fair chance at the advantages of a Marquette education.” —Barry C. Cosgrove

Marquette’s current student population represents the most diverse student body in its history. Approximately one in five Marquette students is a first-generation college student, and a quarter are students of color. Scholarship gifts are life-changing for these prospective students, their families and the community.

Barry is also honoring the impact of EOP and its 50th anniversary through a separate gift of the same amount to the program’s parent organization, the Council for Opportunity in Education.

“Today the Marquettes of the world remain more important than ever. I’m grateful for everything the university has done for me, and I want to do them proud,” Barry said.

Indeed he has. The university recognized Barry with its 2019 Alumni Professional Achievement Award.


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