Longtime WashU benefactors Judy and Jerry Kent have again stepped up with a new challenge designed to raise $2 million toward new and increased scholarship pledges, multiyear pledges and endowed scholarships aimed at supporting WashU Olin students.
Dean Mark P. Taylor announced the Kent Scholarship Challenge on Thursday at the annual Scholars in Business event, designed to recognize students who have benefitted from scholarships—as well as the many benefactors who have contributed to support them.
“Judy and Jerry’s commitment to scholarships is evident in their ongoing generosity that dates back to 1998,” Taylor said at Thursday’s event. “They have personally impacted at least 75 Olin students through the Kent Scholars Program and hope to inspire others to give back and support the bright and deserving Olin students who are the next generation of business leaders.”
The Scholars in Business program was established in 1979 with 17 business scholarships at Washington University. In the ensuing 42 years, more than 6,000 students have benefitted from nearly 500 scholarships, including more than 45 Legacy Scholarships. These are scholarships given by donors who themselves received a named scholarship when they attended Olin.
Jerry Kent, BSBA ’78, MBA ’79, and Judy previously established the Kent Scholars Program at Olin in 2008 with a $3 million contribution. The program awards five four-year scholarships to first-year students in the bachelor’s in business administration program.
This new challenge will provide a dollar-for-dollar match for every new or increased annual fund gift up to $50,000. It will also provide up to a $100,000 match for new endowed scholarships. The challenge begins effective immediately and will remain in place until the $2 million goal is met.
Jerry Kent began his career as a CPA with Arthur Andersen and moved in 1983 to build a career in the cable television industry, starting with the upstart Cencom Cable Associates, where he eventually became CFO before it was sold in 1991. He co-founded Charter Communications in 1993, leading that firm to become one of the 10 largest cable operators in the US with 1.3 million customers.
Judy Kent is a longtime St. Louis-area volunteer, notching service for organizations including Stages St. Louis, Easterseals Midwest and the St. Louis Zoo. This year, the couple was awarded the Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award.