May 26, 2010

A Gift for Students

Edward Merrin marks 60th reunion with $30 million commitment for financial aid

Trustee emeritus Edward Merrin, who graduated from Tufts 60 years ago, and his wife, Vivian, have committed $30 million to support financial aid at the university. The gift was made on the occasion of Edward Merrin’s 60th reunion this year and will come to Tufts from the Merrins’ estate. When it is received, it will create the Merrin-Bacow Fellows Scholarship Fund in honor of Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow.

Edward H. Merrin, A50, says he and his wife, Vivian, “have always wanted to make gifts that could change the world in some way, even save lives.” Photo: Alonso Nichols

Edward Merrin founded the Merrin Gallery in New York and is a distinguished philanthropist. He and Vivian, whose sons Jeremy, A80, Seth, A82, and Samuel, A85, graduated from Tufts, are longtime benefactors whose past gifts in support of students and faculty total nearly $9 million.

“My wife and I have always wanted to make gifts that could change the world in some way, even save lives,” Edward Merrin said. “Larry Bacow’s passion for financial aid was an inspiration to Vivian and me. He’s said that great universities are made up of great people. If we are to be a truly great university, then we should support the very best students. There may be someone out there now with a child who would never go to college without this aid,” Edward Merrin said.

“I am moved beyond words that Ed and Vivian would make such a gift in my honor,” Bacow said. “That they would do so to support financial aid—my highest priority as president—only makes it that much more meaningful. Countless future students will have the opportunity to study at Tufts because of the Merrins’ generosity.”

Edward Merrin is one of Tufts’ most devoted advocates. “Tufts holds a very special place in my life,” said Merrin, who has worked closely with the university for more than three decades to further its financial resources. “I wasn’t able to give very large gifts when I was younger, but I always felt I owed a debt to Tufts,” he said. “Financial aid affects individual students as well as the circumstances of their immediate family. There’s also a generational benefit: their future children will be beneficiaries of their parents’ educational experience.”

Financial aid is the fastest-growing line item in the university budget. Since 2001, Tufts has increased financial aid for undergraduate, graduate and professional students by almost 94 percent.

In directing their commitment to financial aid, the Merrins join many donors who, over the course of Tufts’ $1.2 billion Beyond Boundaries campaign, have stepped forward to support students across the university. The campaign has raised $403 million to date to support increased financial aid and to enhance the student experience through new housing and academic facilities.

Edward Merrin has served on every one of his reunion committees since he received his economics degree in 1950. He and his wife gave Tufts $3 million in 2005, in conjunction with his 55th reunion, to endow the Seth Merrin Chair in the Humanities, which is held by the noted theoretical linguist Ray Jackendoff, a philosopher and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts. The chair is named in honor of their son, a successful entrepreneur who co-founded Liquidnet, a provider of an electronic buy-side block trading system, and a Tufts trustee.

Edward Merrin served on Tufts’ board of trustees from 1980 to 1991 and was subsequently elected trustee emeritus. During his term, he also served as national chair of the Annual Fund and Special Gifts. Under his leadership, annual fund gifts exceeded the $15 million goal by $5 million during Tufts’ first capital campaign. As chair of the Board of Overseers for the Arts, he was instrumental in securing the funding for the Aidekman Arts Center on the Medford/Somerville campus.

The Merrin Gallery, which he founded in the 1960s, is internationally recognized for Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities and pre-Columbian works of ancient art. Major acquisitions from the gallery are now in the collections of museums throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Edward Merrin is a member and former president of the American Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art, a director of the Lincoln Center Theater, a trustee of the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged and a director of the Joint Distribution Committee of the United Jewish Appeal. He formerly served as a trustee of the Infants Home of Brooklyn, chair of the board of the Childville Home for Emotionally Disturbed Children and a member of the executive committee of the American Friends of the Israel Museum.

In addition to being Tufts parents, the Merrins are Tufts grandparents, and Edward Merrin’s late brother, Seymour Merrin, A52, and cousin, Michael Merrin, A64, are also alumni.

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