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Durst Family Donates $2.5 Million To SUNY Purchase

PURCHASE, N.Y. –  A longtime Purchase College supporter's children have donated $2.5 million to the school in their mother's honor.

Peter, Leslie, and Stephen Durst set up four endowments to provide scholarships, programs and production support to commemorate the late Shirley Durst's "love for the arts and education,”  Peter Durst said in a statement.

“Shirley was an extraordinary advocate, friend, and trustee, and we are extremely grateful for this generous donation,” Purchase College President Thomas Schwarz said in a written statement. “More than 400 students have already benefited from the Dursts' generosity, and with these new endowments, hundreds, if not thousands, more will receive support."

The 92-year-old Durst wanted this gift to become a reality – telling Schwarz shortly before her death in 2011 “that she supported the notion of establishing endowed funds to sustain her history of annual giving,” the statement says.

The four endowments are

  • The Shirley and Royal Durst School of the Arts Endowment of $1 million to provide scholarships and production support for the School of the Arts and the School of Film and Media Studies
  • The Shirley and Royal Durst Endowed Scholarship Fund of $1 million to provide scholarships for students across disciplines, with a preference for those studying literature, art history, acting and creative writing.
  • The Shirley and Royal Durst Dance Scholarship Fund of $400,000 to provide scholarships for students in the Conservatory of Dance
  • The Shirley and Royal Durst President’s Fund of $100,000 to provide unrestricted funds for the president of Purchase College to support the college’s greatest needs.

“In recognition of their ongoing commitment to Purchase College,” the School of Humanities Building bears the Durst name in addition to a lecture series that continues to bring in celebrated writers, the statement said.

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