SMC Foundation Receives $1 Million Gift from Mitzi Blahd

Retired Santa Monica College professor Harvey Stromberg speaks at a SMC Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6 where it was announced that Pacific Palisades philanthropist Mitzi Blahd, a student and friend of Stromberg’s, had donated $1 million to the SMC Foundation in Stromberg’s honor.

Pacific Palisades resident and philanthropist Mitzi Blahd speaks at an SMC Board of Trustees meeting. Blahd donated $1 million to the SMC Foundation in Stromberg’s honor.

(L-R) Lizzy Moore, SMC Interim Dean of Institutional Advancement; Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President; Mitzi Blahd; Harvey Stromberg; and Gita Runkle, Dean of SMC’s Emeritus program where Stromberg teaches and Blahd is a student.

December 8, 2016

Gift Will Fund Scholarships and Filming of ‘Living Histories’ In Honor of Harvey Stromberg

The Santa Monica College Foundation has received a $1 million gift from longtime Pacific Palisades philanthropist Miriam “Mitzi” Blahd. The gift honors the legacy of retired SMC political science professor and former KCRW talk show host Harvey Stromberg; it will provide scholarships in Stromberg’s name and also fund the filming of ‘Living Histories’ of eight students enrolled in the SMC Emeritus Program for older adults.

Santa Monica College is deeply grateful to Mitzi Blahd for her expression of great generosity,” said SMC Superintendent/President and SMC Foundation board member Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. “The scholarships and films to be made possible by her gift will not only provide extremely deserving students an opportunity to expand their world beyond their wildest expectations, but also record for posterity the incredible life stories of some of our Emeritus College students. Moreover, Mrs. Blahd's gift acknowledges the impact SMC Professor Harvey Stromberg has made on the many students he has taught and inspired in 40 years."

Blahd—who first met Stromberg when she took a Chinese history class he was teaching at SMC in 1974—said she knew immediately that “this was somebody special.” The following week, she and her late husband Dr. William Blahd brought slides from their recent trip to China to share with the class. Later that evening, over pie and coffee, the Blahds struck up a friendship with Stromberg that would last decades; they grew to consider him part of their family.

“He is such a great teacher…that’s why he stands out,” said Blahd of Stromberg. She remembers how she began her lifetime of giving: “I started fundraising at the age of ten—I baked cookies and invited 25 neighbors to come hear me play Flight of the Bumblebee. I raised two dollars and fifty cents and sent it to a children’s hospital in Denver. That was the beginning of my philanthropic career…and it has never stopped. Education is my number one reason for giving and to be able to help so many people is just my joy. I am grateful that I am able to do it.”

“Mitzi is a very generous person who has supported education all her life and she knew SMC was my life for 40 years,” says Stromberg, who continues to teach part-time at the Emeritus Program. “She wanted future generations of students to benefit from these scholarships...many deserving students will be either able to continue their education or go to Washington D.C., and I know that will mean a lot to them. She will certainly leave a legacy behind.”

Half of Blahd’s $1 million gift will go towards establishing the Harvey Stromberg Leadership Scholarship, and will provide 10 students with $500 scholarships annually in perpetuity; additionally, through the Stromberg Scholars for Dale Ride Internship endowment, the gift will provide four SMC students with $5,000 internships annually (SMC’s Dale Ride Internship Program—established in the memory of SMC professor Dale Ride—sends selected students to Washington, D.C. for eight weeks, giving them the opportunity to intern in Congress and with other public organizations).

The other half will provide funding for the production of “living history” stories of eight SMC Emeritus students; the films will be made by the award-winning SMC film production program. The college will also rename a lecture hall in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building on its main campus—HSS 165—the “Professor Harvey Stromberg Lecture Hall”.

“The impact that Mitzi’s gift will have cannot be overstated,” said Lizzy Moore, SMC Interim Dean of Institutional Advancement. “Not only does it honor Professor Stromberg’s legacy, it recognizes the transformative power of education and how Santa Monica College accomplishes that every day. We have no doubt that Mitzi’s gift will be ‘the gift that keeps on giving’: its fruits will be seen in our students’ lives and that of their families and in others they go on to influence and serve.”

For more information on the Santa Monica College Foundation, please visit santamonicacollegefoundation.org or email Lizzy Moore at Moore_Lizzy@smc.edu.

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