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UMGC ImpactIntroducing the Ehrensberger Legacy Society’s Newest Inductees

Introducing the Ehrensberger Legacy Society’s Newest Inductees

​In June, members of the UMGC community and UMGC President Dr. Gregory Fowler celebrated some of UMGC’s most generous supporters in a virtual event as they welcomed them into the Ehrensberger Legacy Society.

The Ehrensberger Legacy Society is a special group of the University’s most philanthropic, forward-thinking supporters who are contributing to the university via their estate plans, such as through a bequest, a gift of stock, trusts, annuities and other assets.

To kick off the event, attendees enjoyed a musical performance by cellist “Eyeglasses”. Then President Fowler expressed his appreciation for the generous philanthropy of UMGC’s benefactors. 

“Thank you for your support and for your belief in our students, in our mission and in the power of education to make the world better and the future brighter,” he said.

This support was especially significant during the pandemic. “I am proud that because of the generous support of individuals like you, we’ve been able to grant more than $473,000 in emergency funding to 952 students through SAFER, the UMGC Student Aid Fund for Emergency Relief,” he added.

Honoring Our Benefactors through The Ehrensberger Legacy Society

The Ehrensberger Legacy Society is named after Ray Ehrensberger, the first Chancellor of UMGC, who was admired for a remarkable combination of qualities. He was a charismatic leader, an accomplished administrator, a distinguished scholar, an adventurer and a forward-thinking visionary whose influence can still be seen at UMGC today. Ehrensbeger passed away in 1997 at the age of 92.

The Ehrensberger Legacy Society recognizes the foresight and generosity of all alumni and friends who have established planned gifts with the university or have provided for UMGC in their wills. Through planned giving, donors establish personal legacies that can support any number of priorities and initiatives, from scholarships and endowed chairs to programs that span disciplines to provide students with valuable perspectives.

Meet the five newest members of UMGC’s Ehrensberger Legacy Society

Willis “Tom” Lansford ’90, ’96 received his Bachelor of Science in Business and Management and a Master of Science in Management Information Systems from UMGC. Tom’s commitment to UMGC was deepened through his service on the UMGC Alumni Executive Council from 1995 to 2000 and his various roles on the UMGC Alumni Advisory Board. He spent his career at Verizon Communications before retirement.

“I chose a planned gift to UMGC, as it aligns with my core belief that education is a key component to improving the world,” he says. “It’s humbling to be a part of this community that supports and empowers people to achieve their educational goals, and planned giving is the most impactful way to provide that for the future.”

Walter R. Somerville, Jr. ’70 earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at UMGC in 1970. A U.S. Air Force veteran, he recognized that a college education would make him more competitive for jobs in the federal government. In 1983, he became assistant commandant for civil rights in the U.S. Coast Guard and held a status of senior rear admiral, the sixth-highest ranking official. When he retired after 54 years of public service, he worked with UMGC to create an endowed scholarship for undergraduate students.

When asked why he gives, he said, “I do it out of my heart, to try to help people by giving them an opportunity to make a positive difference in their lives.”

Robert Alonso, Jr. ’08 earned his Master of Business Administration at UMGC in 2008 in order to advance his accounting career. Today, he is director of finance and operations at the Field School in Washington, DC. Generous with his philanthropy work and time with UMGC, he received the 2016 Edward A. Parnell Outstanding Alumnus Award. Active with the UMGC Alumni Advisory Award since 2017, he served as president for the past two years.

When asked why he is so active in the UMGC community, he replied, “For me it’s the connections with the people that I’ve worked with, whether it’s on the Alumni Board or whether it’s the students that I’ve formed connections with… and also the professors that I taught with. Being involved in some very strong thought leadership at the university has challenged me to keep going in my educational pursuits and being a life-long learner.”

Gina Noel ’02, ’09 graduated from UMGC in 2002 with her Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Occupational Health. Recognizing the value of education, she returned to UMGC to earn her Master of Science in Management in 2009. Today, she is an environmental sciences manager for the General Services Administration overseeing Army-sustaining base management.

“I give to UMGC because as an alumna, I actually benefited quite a bit through others giving for me, and so I would like to pass that on and be able to help others. Knowing that someone else can benefit from something that I have is an amazing feeling,” she says. “I left school with several degrees debt-free. I’m hopeful this contribution will be able to help someone else bridge the gap between their desires and that ultimate goal of having a higher education.”

Dr. Frank R. Scheer, II has been an adjunct professor of supply chain and logistics management at UMGC since 2006. Highly rated by his students, he shares real-world experience from 29 years in supply chain management with the U.S. Postal Service.

He says, “During the past 15 years as a faculty member, I have seen first-hand the value of UMGC educational opportunities for students. It means a great deal to me to leave a personal legacy after the conclusion of my teaching career so that these opportunities can be continued.”

Watch the celebration here, and learn more about The Ehrensberger Legacy Society here