A Grandfather’s Graduation Present

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Multiple Prusoff generations join to endow scholarship fund

It was 2005 and Sarah Prusoff ’01 was about to graduate. Her grandfather, William H. Prusoff, wanted to honor Sarah’s graduation with a gift to the College.

The Prusoff Family

“My Granddad was an amazing, truly generous man,” Sarah Prusoff remembers. The elder Prusoff, who passed away in April, was a trailblazing scientist who made significant contributions to the treatment of viral diseases. A pharmacologist at the Yale School of Medicine, he synthesized the first clinically used anti-viral drug in the 1950s.

Prusoff and Yale a colleague developed d4t, a component of the first combination therapy for HIV. The use of d4t helped slow the spread of the AIDS epidemic and allowed many of the millions of people treated with it to live longer and healthier lives than was previously thought possible.

His desire to benefit society led him to lobby Yale and pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb to make drugs containing d4t available cheaply in the developing world. It also led him to establish the William H. Prusoff Foundation to support causes important to him.

Helping students complete their education

William’s graduation present to Sarah was both a gift and an example. He would make the gift in her honor, funding a scholarship in her name. Sarah would be in charge of deciding how the funds would be used.

Sarah knew exactly what she wanted to do.

“I’d seen several friends have to leave Simon’s Rock after two years. At that point there weren’t many scholarships to support students in the Upper College and I was saddened seeing classmates disappear.”

With support from her father Alvin, who manages the William H. Prusoff Foundation, Sarah was able to endow a scholarship fund that supports BA students for two years. The Sarah E. Prusoff Scholarship is awarded every other year to a meritorious student with financial need. Notably, the funds travel with that student if he or she chooses to study abroad during the junior year.

The Prusoffs regularly receive letters from students who were able to stay at the College because of the family’s contribution. “I’ve been so impressed by these letters. The students who receive this scholarship are amazing people doing amazing things,” Prusoff emphasizes.

The most meaningful gift

“This gift was the most meaningful graduation present my grandfather could have given me,” Prusoff says. “While I was leaving Simon’s Rock—because of this gift—I knew that I wasn’t leaving it behind.”

Many times the decision to make a gift to the College is one that happens between students and their families. Often, as in Sarah’s case, generations of a family come together to support an institution that has transformed a child or grandchild’s life.

The Prusoffs are not alone in taking action to support students at the College. They are however representative of the way that many families demonstrate their love for Simon’s Rock’s unique mission—and its ability to change lives—with support for the College’s students.

Make a graduation gift to Simon's Rock by clicking here. Or, to speak further about various giving arrangements, contact Susan Emerson Clapp at (413) 528-7253 or sclapp@simons-rock.edu.