You could call it Christmas in July for Pensacola State College, which is getting a gift from retirees from the firm known — at one time or another — as Chemstrand, Monsanto and Solutia.
The $30,000 donation from the Monsanto-Solutia Retirees Inc. will provide assistance through scholarships and programs. PSC President Ed Meadows welcomed the gift, saying it continues a long-standing relationship between the college and Solutia.
"Monsanto-Solutia has supported Pensacola State since 1986; and has invested over $100,000 in support of this college over the years,” said Meadows. “Matter of fact, the first two cybersecurity associate degree graduates went to work for Monsanto-Solutia.”
At $121 per credit hour, PSC ranks in the top one percent in the nation when it comes to affordability, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Meadows says that opens a lot of doors.
“We’re an opportunity for a lot of students that would never get a college education, if it were not for the affordability that we have,” Meadows said. “But the giving hearts of our community – like Monsanto-Solutia – even today with our tuition at $121 a credit hour – that’s a lot of money to students.”
The Monsanto-Solutia Retirees Endowed Scholarships will be awarded to students with a connection to Monsanto, Solutia or Cantonment-based Ascend Performance Materials; Ascend employees, students enrolled in health care programs, and chemical engineering students.
“Last year, we gave out $660,000 in scholarships from the Foundation; so you can imagine when we talk about that [$121 dollar] credit hour what kind of difference that makes for our students,” said Andrea Krieger, executive director of the Pensacola State College Foundation. She took to the podium to welcome the retirees association to the lineup of contributors
“But what I really want you guys to think about is how this plays into the future,” Krieger told the retirees. “Fifty-two percent of that $660,000 came from the interest that we earned off our endowments. And it means that into the future we will be able to support students at Pensacola State. And you guys are now a big piece of that.”
Monsanto-Solutia Retirees began their contributions in 2014, after massive flooding in Pensacola. Gerald McArthur is one of the association’s founders, and now serves as chairman.
“Manna Food Bank had lost their place; [the] Salvation Army had helped a lot of people during the flood,” McArthur said. “The Council on Aging during the summers for air conditioning [and] the United Way during the Century tornado [in 2016].
The gift to PSC, says McArthur, is personal for many of the retirees – a way to give back for their long careers at Monsanto-Solutia.
“I wouldn’t have gone to college; it was a requirement to have a high school education,” said McArthur. “A lot of our people came back and got GEDs, and most of those original [chemical] lab people got their training. We’re just proud that we can reflect on the past; honor some of the retirees, and kind of leave a legacy.”
The scholarship is also available to full or part-time students at PSC, with a 2.5 or higher grade point average; and be a U.S. citizen or resident alien. The money can be used for tuition; books, fees, and other supplies.