Robert and Diane Levy announce $10 million gift to support Vanderbilt financial aid program

Diane and Robert M. Levy, BA'72
Diane and Robert M. Levy, BA’72

Longtime Vanderbilt University supporters Robert M. Levy, BA’72, and his wife, Diane, have announced a new gift of $10 million to continue support for their scholarship fund, which provides need-based aid to undergraduate students as part of Opportunity Vanderbilt, the university’s initiative to meet 100 percent of students’ financial need without loans.

“Bob and Diane Levy helped lay the groundwork for what ultimately became Opportunity Vanderbilt with their initial scholarship fund in 1997. We are truly grateful to the Levys for this new gift and for their unwavering dedication to Vanderbilt’s ambitious goal of providing financial aid to talented students from all backgrounds,” Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said. “Attaining a world-class college education is part of the American dream. Nobody should be denied that opportunity because of their financial situation or have to incur crippling debt to achieve such a laudable goal.”

The latest financial commitment, made as a bequest, will extend support to diverse undergraduate students at Vanderbilt through the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy Scholarship.

(See Vanderbilt Magazine’s past coverage of how the Levy Scholarship supports a virtuous cycle of giving.)

“My wife and I are proud to support Vanderbilt’s efforts to make diversity and inclusion a priority through this Opportunity Vanderbilt scholarship fund,” said Levy, retired chairman of the Chicago investment firm Harris Associates, L.P. “I think to have a great institution, you want to include and offer opportunity to a wide spectrum of people, who bring both academic strengths and diverse cultural perspectives. It’s all-encompassing.”

To date, the Levy Scholarship has supported 15 Vanderbilt undergraduates, including Tiara Aldridge, now a resident physician in obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “I would say that the scholarship took a dream that for me was probably almost deferred, because I didn’t have the funds, to a dream that has been realized,” Aldridge said. “I’m very grateful to have been on the receiving end, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to be on the giving end to continue such efforts.”

Levy added that he was encouraged by Vanderbilt’s commitment to providing mentorship and well-being resources to students from many different backgrounds in a way that complements scholarship resources. “All students need to have a chance to thrive and succeed once they’re on campus,” he said.

Since its official launch in 2008, the financial aid program known as Opportunity Vanderbilt has supported more than 8,900 undergraduate students. In the 2016-17 academic year, the financial aid program is providing aid to 3,058 students.

More than 3,500 people have made gifts between $1 and $20 million to Opportunity Vanderbilt. This support places Vanderbilt among a small handful of U.S. universities that meet 100 percent of a student and their family’s demonstrated need through grants and scholarships, not the use of loans.