(Photography by Jason Smith)

Epic venture

“Homer” relfects on five years of Odyssey scholarships.

Each spring the University hosts a reception to thank donors of undergraduate scholarships; this year’s May 5 celebration also marked the fifth year of the College’s Odyssey Scholarship program, begun with a $100 million gift from an anonymous alumnus the University dubbed “Homer.”

To date almost 2,000 undergraduates, including 251 from this year’s graduating class, have received Odyssey scholarships, and more than 6,200 donors have joined Homer in contributing to the program, which provides grants to students whose families earn $90,000 or less per year.

Homer did not attend the May 5 reception, where former University president Hanna Gray handed out Odyssey medals (above), but when asked to comment on the significance of his gift, he e-mailed this response:

I am not too impressed with myself. I just wrote a check. I am more puzzled by those who have experienced the luck I have who do not do the same. I am, though, proud of my alma mater. It had the courage to allow the gift to be structured the way it was and the diligence not only to achieve but also to surpass the agreed-upon goals. I am proud of the community that has adopted the program and supported it so well.

And most of all, I am proud of the students, who have (in instances that elicit, when I read about them, a broad smile from this oft somber sort) demonstrated how much more valuable than my gift is their unburdened participation in this most ancient and honorable community of scholars.