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Couple Who Left $125 Million To UOP Never Attended College, Fell In Love With Campus

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STOCKTON (CBS13) — The University of the Pacific received a $125 million donation on Thursday from a couple who never graduated from college.

Bob and Jeannette Powell had a passion for the arts, higher education and UOP, and they found a way to combine them into donation of art pieces and a massive cash donation to the school.

The money will go to students’ tuition and academic programs at the school. It’ll help pay for at least 40 students to attend school at UOP.

“This is a transformative gift,” said UOP President Pamela Eibeck. “The Powells wanted this gift to improve student access, to improve the quality of education they receive, as well as enhance the arts.”

Professor Cynthia Wagner Weick is the director of the Powell Scholars Program. She got to know Jeanette five years ago, after her husband had passed away.

“She was a shy woman,” she said. “Get her around the students, and she would just beam.”

The couple served on the board of regents. They never had kids of their own, and never graduated from college.

But both had successful careers of their own. Robert was a developer and entrepreneur, and Jeannette was a professional interior designer.

Both always wanted to help young people, and they fell in love with the school. They promised UOP they’d set up an endowment to help students get a higher education.

Students like Marselus Cayton say his education wouldn’t be possible without the help of people like the Powells.

“I think it says that they completely understand the value of a higher education, but more than anything, they understand the value of a Pacific education,” he said.

That education comes with a price tag of $50,000, now made easier for some by the gift from the Powells.

“If we had more people like Bob and Jeannette Powell who cared as deeply about the education of young people in this country, we would have a renaissance in education,” Weick said.

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