FLORENCE---Within moments of kicking off its first capital campaign June 12, Francis Marion University received its largest private gift ever.
Bebe and Lorin Mason announced a $1 million contribution to FMU during the campaign kickoff ceremony Tuesday night. The Masons are a prominent Florence family now living at Pawleys Island. They’ve been long-time supporters of Francis Marion University.
J. Lorin Mason Jr., a retired orthopaedic surgeon, served on the FMU Board of Trustees from 1988 to 1998, including a stint as chairman. He was president of Friends of FMU for 18 years and served on the FMU Foundation board for 20 years, including a period as chairman. Mason was president of Pee Dee Orthopaedic Associates in Florence from 1973 until his retirement in 1998.
The gift is the largest in FMU history and will establish the Bebe and Lorin Mason Medical Educational Endowment Fund to create scholarship support for pre-dental and pre-medical students at FMU. The university has a phenomenal acceptance rate for its students applying to dental and medical schools: 93 percent and 82 percent respectively.
“If you asked me whether I’m surprised at this gift, the answer is no,“ said FMU President Fred Carter. “Bebe and Lorin Mason have taken leadership roles in FMU, working on behalf of this university for years. We are most grateful to them for their outstanding generosity.”
“This is the type of gift that provides worthy students an educational opportunity in perpetuity,” he said. There is no more lasting way to benefit the sons and daughters of our state.”
The Campaign for Excellence is being conducted through the FMU Foundation to raise private support for FMU programs over the next five years.
During the silent phase of the campaign under way for more than a year, more than $5 million in leadership gifts were announced Tuesday. The Mason gift pushes the campaign past the halfway mark toward its $12 million goal.
Campaign chairman Ashpy Lowrimore, regional president of Branch Banking and Trust Corp., told FMU supporters Tuesday that he was hopeful that the campaign goal could be reached within the next year.
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