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Monday, July 28, 2003

SU Celebrates ADA Signing With a New Endowed Scholarship

SALISBURY, MD -- A Silver Spring, MD, resident has bequeathed the first endowment fund in the University System of Maryland for a scholarship dedicated to graduate study for persons with disabilities.

 

The late Bayne Richmond “Rick” Dudley, who was born with cerebral palsy and  served as an advocate for persons with disabilities under three Maryland governors, has willed some $300,000 to the Salisbury University Foundation to establish a scholarship at the Eastern Shore campus.

 

Dudley, who died in December 2001 at age 53, was not the stereotypical foundation benefactor.    According to family and acquaintances, he combined an earthy sense of humor and joie de vivre with a propensity to say exactly what he was thinking.  His upper torso was covered with tattoos and he had a fondness for working out in the gym--before being sidelined by serious illness prior to his death.  Beneath the cultivated iconoclastic exterior, however, was a sharp, sensitive mind with a love of education and commitment to the disabled community. 

 

Born and raised in the Baltimore area, Dudley said one of his strongest memories as a child was “My father helping me on with my leg braces and telling me to do the best I could in school, because that is how (through furthering his education) I’m going to make a living.”  He went on to Towson University where he graduated in 1972 and enjoyed a successful career as a senior program analyst with the U.S. General Services Administration.

 

Before he died, Dudley said he chose SU for the scholarship for several reasons:   “I believe great programs exist in the Baltimore-Washington corridor (for persons with disabilities), but beyond that region folks are left in the lurch.  And I’ve always had an affinity toward the Eastern Shore because of the friendly people.”

 

One of the biggest influences in his decision-making was his cousin, Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach, who introduced him to SU when she became its president in 2000.  Set on a compact 140 acres, the University boasts an attractive landscape that is flat; buildings that are close together and easily accessible; and no roads crisscrossing main campus, which instead is centered on a wheel-chair friendly pedestrian mall.  As early as 1981 SU was winning governor’s awards for barrier-free design.

 

"I was fortunate to have a cousin like Rick,” Dudley-Eshbach said. “He was an extremely intelligent, fun-loving, and caring individual. Though he initially had planned to establish a scholarship fund for College Park or Towson University students, he came to see Salisbury University as the ideal place for students with disabilities to pursue higher education. I am most grateful for Rick's generous legacy gift which will benefit Salisbury University students for many years to come."

 

Dudley said he decided to dedicate the endowment to scholarships for persons with disabilities at the graduate level because such funding was so limited.  It’s easier, he said, for undergraduates with disabilities to get financial assistance.  “People with disabilities can go to college and get jobs.  Now it’s a matter of going as far as you can in your career.  This scholarship will allow people who have proven themselves to develop their careers.”  The scholarship will provide recipients up to $5000 a year.

 

University officials see the endowment as a good match for the Eastern Shore campus, which is both expanding the number of its graduate programs and working to increase the diversity of its student body.

 

Shortly after graduating, Dudley began working as an advocate for people with disabilities, serving on the boards of directors of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland and the United Cerebral Palsy Association, the Maryland Development Disabilities Council, and other state organizations appointed by governors Marvin Mandel, Blair Lee and Harry Hughes.

 

“When I went on vacation (on the Eastern Shore)”, said Dudley, “I thought how good life was.  Maybe it’s time to spread some help and encouragement around here.”

 

According to Paul Rendine, a Salisbury stock broker and Eastern Shore advocate for people with disabilities, one out of every five Marylanders suffers from some form of disability, based on accepted definitions under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  They range from spinal cord injuries to learning and visual impairment.

 

For more information visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu or call 410-543-6165.


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