The University of Chicago is launching a new $200 million commitment to educational access and financial aid for undergraduate students through a gift and challenge from the University’s Board of Trustees in honor of President Robert J. Zimmer.
Members of the Board have donated $105 million to the Odyssey Scholarship Program, the University’s flagship financial aid initiative that helps ensure need-blind, loan-free education for students regardless of their economic circumstances. Their gifts—the largest in support of financial aid in University history—also will serve as a challenge to raise a total of $200 million with the support of UChicago alumni, parents and friends.
The transformative effort, which will establish the Robert J. Zimmer Odyssey Scholarship Fund, honors Zimmer’s unwavering commitment during his 15-year presidency to expanding undergraduate financial aid and educational access to the University of Chicago. Zimmer launched the Odyssey program in 2007 with a $100 million challenge gift from an anonymous alumnus, whom the University dubbed “Homer.” In 2016, a $50 million gift and challenge from Harriet Heyman, AM’72, and her husband, Sir Michael Moritz, greatly expanded financial support for lower-income students. Numerous others also have generously supported the program since its inception. The new initiative is intended to help sustain the Odyssey program in perpetuity.
This transformative gift honors President Robert J. Zimmer’s unwavering commitment during his 15-year tenure to expanding undergraduate financial aid and educational access to the University of Chicago. (Photo by Robert Kozloff)
The Odyssey program has ensured access to a UChicago education for more than 5,300 students of diverse backgrounds—many of whom are the first in their families to attend college—and provided support and opportunities for mentorship, study abroad and paid internships. It also eliminates loans and academic year work requirements. Since Odyssey’s creation, a number of University initiatives have expanded support and access for College students of all backgrounds, including first-generation and low-income students, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx students, military veterans, and those from Chicago and from rural areas.