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UMN Morris News Service
Publication date: 
October 18, 2021

The Rice/Loek/Titus family

Kathleen Rice and Gregory Loek have established an endowed scholarship, the Loek-Rice-Titus Family Scholarship, through UMN’s Bentson Scholarship Challenge. Inspiration for the scholarship, which will live on in perpetuity, comes, in part, from their daughter, Ellen Titus ’15, and her experience at the University of Minnesota Morris.

“At Morris, there were so many people interested in so many different things,” says Titus, who earned degrees in biology and studio art. “It was one of the reasons I fell in love with the student and faculty communities. I think it would have been harder to meet people who were doing both biology and art at a larger school.”

The Bentson Foundation began in 1956 when UMN alumni Larry and Nancy Bentson, intended to “benefit promising students and their futures and to preserve the integrity of local arts organizations and public health.” For Kathleen and Gregory, the vision of the Bentsons was inspiring. “We never even considered establishing an endowed scholarship because we assumed it would require hundreds of thousands of dollars. When we looked into it we were surprised to find that the minimum investment was not as high as we thought, with ways to start small and build it up over time that worked better with our financial situation. We would encourage interested people to check out the options available.”

The opportunity from the Bentson Foundation, the positive experiences of their daughter, and the generous spirit of the Kathleen and Gregory are at the heart of this scholarship gift. Rice shared, “Youth are the future. You’re investing in the future of everything. These kids who are in college now are hopefully going to go out and change the world in ways we can’t imagine.” Loek added, “You have to recognize you didn’t do it on your own. People, schools, and communities helped you along the way. People around you encouraged you to keep following your dreams.”

Their daughter Ellen’s dreams have led her to do ecological research in North Carolina after receiving her masters degree in biology at East Carolina University, and she continues to pursue art every chance she gets.