George Bergeron ’63 has this philosophy about giving: plant enough seeds and something will grow. He doesn’t care if anyone knows he did the planting; he just wants the results.
"I don’t care if anyone knows who I am. I want to make sure education continues and that money is spent well on people who need it. Everyone might not hit a home run in every case but if people are well educated, they can find a way. All they need is an opportunity."
- George Bergeron ’63
His seed is the endowed Bergeron Fund, a need-based renewable scholarship for New Hampshire students, with a preference given to those living in Strafford County. That’s where he grew up, in Rochester, in a small house crowded with nine siblings and limited resources to experience a wider world.
“I had kind of a small-town background. My folks did the best they could and worked hard,” Bergeron says. “My father didn’t go to college but there was education in the family; a doctor; nurses. I think I was always aimed at college.”
That aim led to a successful career that culminated with the role of executive vice president of Alcoa Corporation and CEO for Alumax and Reynolds Metals, world leaders in aluminum production.
“Everything was so new when I went to college. It opened up a vista for me, to learn, to think critically and respect and share different viewpoints,” Bergeron says. “I came out knowing enough to ask questions and realized what an opportunity that was. I was enriched by that personally and have enjoyed life as a result. I wanted everybody to have that.”
Bergeron recently increased his scholarship fund to help more students. In addition to strong academics, consideration is given for characteristics such as leadership, a willingness to take initiative, good work ethic, curiosity, humility, compassion and a record of employment and community service — qualities that shone through in a thank-you letter from scholarship recipient Cerys Eldred ’22 (quoted in part at left), a nursing and honors student from Bedford, New Hampshire, who says the scholarship she received is saving her from finishing nursing school with a mountain of debt.
“I can say wholeheartedly that [the scholarship] has had such a large impact on my life. I am making the most of my time here at UNH and am so thankful.” - Cerys Eldred ’22
“I’ve always cared about those qualities,” Bergeron says. “And then recently, lo and behold, I get this letter from a young woman thanking me for her scholarship — she brought me to tears. I’ve read it and re-read it. Basically, she hit every targeted objective in my giving program.”
“I’ve always had a heart tug for UNH; I always contributed some, but in the beginning, it wasn’t much,” Bergeron says. “Twenty years ago, I picked up the phone and said, ‘I want to start an endowment,’ and that’s how it started.”
“I don’t care if anyone knows who I am. I want to make sure education continues and that money is spent well on people who need it. Everyone might not hit a home run in every case but if people are well educated, they can find a way. All they need is an opportunity.”