Growing up in a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania, MHC trustee KC Maurer ’84 was inspired by her “pioneering” mother and her maternal grandmother. Her mother, raised in the same rural area, attended the former Colorado Women’s College for two years, then graduated from Goucher College. She subsequently earned a medical degree — still a rarity for women in the early 1960s.
KC’s grandmother didn’t attend college because she was raising younger siblings after her mother’s untimely death. An avid reader, she engaged KC in discussions about existence and spirituality. Decades later, KC found her 90-year-old grandmother reading a calculus textbook.
Now the chief financial officer and treasurer at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, KC has honored those influential women and other beloved family members through gifts to MHC. An office in the Science Center is named for her grandmother, Grace Woods Nellis, and she has endowed two scholarship funds.
“When I decided to honor my parents, I asked myself, ‘What will be most impactful for Mount Holyoke?’ And, ‘What is going to mean the most to me?’ The answer was scholarships.”
Expanding the College’s financial aid resources is KC’s top priority. Because of her mother’s career as a psychiatrist and her father’s work in education, money concerns never interfered with her studies. Her parents “paid full freight for four years, and I graduated with no debt.” Even as an undergraduate, she recognized that having no worries about tuition, the costs of books or the expense of traveling home on holiday breaks was “an extraordinary privilege.”
The Dr. Carol Nellis Maurer and Kenneth O. Maurer Endowed Scholarship honors her parents; it is awarded annually to students with demonstrated financial need. Another scholarship, The Dr. Sabrina L. Maurer ’90 and Dr. Kimberly M. Underwood ’91 Endowed Scholarship, honors KC’s sister and her sister’s late wife. It, too, supports students with demonstrated financial need.
“I give because I want others to have access to the intellectual experience, the social experience and the friendship experience that is Mount Holyoke,” said KC. “This college is a special and wondrous place; its magic is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. I want current students to know that magic without the stress of wondering how they’ll pay their bills.”
KC, who has included Mount Holyoke in her estate plans and as the beneficiary of a retirement account, credits the College with giving her the confidence to pursue top leadership roles. Learning to “step out of the background” led her to serve as a student advisor during sophomore year, hall president during junior and senior years, and senior class president. At winter Convocation her senior year, KC received the Helen Warren Smith Prize for Leadership. At her fifteenth Reunion, she received the Alumnae Association’s Medal of Honor.
Her first job after graduating — fundraising for a home serving emotionally disabled children — came about through a Mount Holyoke connection. And it was advice from Martha Ferry ’66 that led KC to the Warhol Foundation twenty-four years ago. She’s indebted to the alum network and to the Mount Holyoke friends who have shared her life for almost forty years.
Working in the field of development, KC knows it is common for prospective donors to feel that a substantial gift is beyond their means. But it is possible, she said. The solution requires “breaking the gift down into pieces. I know from experience that Mount Holyoke makes the process easy.”