September 01, 2011 — Coral Gables — Even in death, Mary B. Hecht has a powerful influence. When the 69-year-old Miami multimillionaire department store heiress died in 1982 of a massive pulmonary embolism, her will specified that she be laid to rest in a pyramid-shaped mausoleum of pink marble with a white marble Egyptian Sphinx on its front.
Now, nearly 30 years after Hecht passed away, her instructions are still being followed to the letter. Hecht has donated $4.2 million to the University of Miami’s athletics program, fulfilling a promise she made some 35 years ago in her last will and testament. The gift, which could not be executed until the recent passing of the income beneficiary of her estate, will fund scholarships for football student-athletes who are part of a program that has captured five national championships and sent a multitude of players to the NFL.
“We are very moved by this wonderful gift. Mary Hecht was a passionate supporter of her favorite team, the Miami Hurricanes, and now her generous legacy will help future generations of student-athletes fulfill their dream to get a great education and play for the ‘U,’” said UM President Donna E. Shalala.
The Mary B. Hecht Fund is the largest endowment ever for intercollegiate football scholarships at UM and comes just as the University is poised to begin the 2011 college football season under new head coach Al Golden.
“This historical gift will continue to support our vision of excellence in academics and athletics at the University of Miami,” said Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst.
UM’s student-athletes have a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 86 percent, an athletics department record that also ranks above the NCAA national average of 79 percent. UM’s football student-athletes are among the most successful in the school’s 17-sport athletic program, regularly competing in post-season bowl games and compiling some of the highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores in the nation. In 2011, the football program received national recognition from the NCAA for an APR among the top 10 percent nationally. UM’s APR score of 979 ranked eighth nationally among all Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
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