ALUMNUS PAYS IT FORWARD
According to Richard Bergmark, IMGT 1975, his ability to swim brought him to Georgia Tech. “I was fortunate to have a swimming scholarship; without it, I could not have afforded the cost of being an out-of-state student,” said Bergmark.
His experience as both a student-athlete and an out-ofstate student prompted Bergmark to make a generous commitment to students in both the MBA program in the Ernest Scheller Jr. College of Business and to Tech’s swimming and diving programs. Specifically, Bergmark and his wife, Toni, have established the Toni M. and Richard L. Bergmark Fellowship Endowment Fund to support out-of-state students entering the MBA program. An additional commitment establishes the Toni M. and Richard L. Bergmark Athletic Scholarship Endowment Fund for undergraduate student-athletes in the swimming and diving programs.
“One of the attributes of Tech is the breadth of its out-of-state and international student body,” Bergmark explained. Encountering students from other parts of the country — and other countries — helps encourage “fresh perspectives on ideas, background, and knowledge-sharing. I hope the recipients of these gifts will share their own unique perspectives,” he added.
Bergmark said he was moved to support graduate fellowships after hearing Provost Rafael Bras speak on Initiative 2020 priorities. “He became very passionate about the need for graduate student fellowships, and that served as the catalyst for me to respond to Dean Maryam Alavi’s focus on the Scheller MBA program,” said Bergmark. As Georgia Tech continues to rise in national rankings, funding for graduate fellowships becomes more prized. The number and size of graduate fellowships available directly affects a university’s ability to recruit — and retain — the best students, who typically have their pick of graduate schools. Initiative 2020, with its emphasis on funding graduate fellowships, “will go a long way toward providing our Scheller programs with needed investment,” said Bergmark.
A swimming and diving scholarship for talented Tech undergraduates was the Bergmarks’ latest gift in support of athletics. “I was determined to return the favor of the scholarship that Coach (Herb) McAuley had provided me,” he said. “What began as one scholarship from my wife and me several years ago has now led to further support for the swimming and diving teams.”
A longtime Texas resident who has “never lived in Georgia except for my four years at Tech,” Bergmark is committed to helping the Institute attract top-quality students. He also hopes that students who benefit from his family’s generous gifts may choose to give back one day as well. Scholarships and fellowships alike can be “life-impacting [for] the recipient,” he said. “Should those recipients want to give back to Tech at a later date to ‘repay’ what they were given, then the gift from my wife and me will have been an even greater success,” said Bergmark.
He and his wife also hope other alumni — including young, recent graduates — will be moved to give, regardless of income. “For young alumni in particular, I would say start early, and don’t be afraid to start small. But do add to it every year as one does with any savings/retirement fund,” said Bergmark. “Consider an endowment as a savings account for the benefit of a future student.”