It is an idea that flowered and bore fruit beyond anything that Peggy and Ben Schapiro ’64 had ever envisioned. In fact, undergraduate research at Randolph-Macon just keeps on growing and growing and growing.
In 1995, the couple gave seed money to help establish an undergraduate research program at Randolph-Macon. This gift enabled ten students to conduct summer research by providing them with $2000 stipends and on-campus accommodations. Most importantly, students had the opportunity to work alongside professors and develop research skills by observing their mentors in action.
Fast forward to 2007 and the number of students applying for undergraduate research funding far exceeds supply. As a result, the Schapiros are investing another $1.25 million in the program. As part of R-MC‘s capital campaign, the Schapiros are giving enough money to the college to allow about 40 students a year the opportunity to do innovative work in the Schapiro Undergraduate Research Program, affectionately known as SURF.
"In 1995 I was looking to lay the groundwork for a program that would help students develop more enthusiasm, skills and experience in their science majors,"explains Ben Schapiro, who is also one of the longest serving Board of Trustee members in college history. "hat I did not anticipate was that the program would become a major draw in terms of recruiting highly talented students."
Science students are not the only ones applying for SURF grants. "The program has quickly encompassed the humanities as well as the sciences which is something I never envisioned but absolutely delights me," says Schapiro. "Now we have creative students doing groundbreaking work in subjects ranging from literature to women’s studies to political science."
Schapiro, who majored in economics, still appreciates the opportunities he had at Randolph-Macon to learn alongside his professors. “I believe Randolph- Macon instilled a sense of integrity in students. It was a genteel environment. We had outstanding professors with a lot of integrity and as a result many of their students developed certain instincts and human skills that led them to practice these traits in their lives.”