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Building Bridges of Opportunity

In August 2022, Cummings Foundation donated $10 million to Salem State University’s McKeown School of Education to support programs and initiatives aimed at diversifying, strengthening and sustaining the next generation of educators, representing the largest cash contribution ever made in the history of the nine Massachusetts state universities.

“This generous contribution is an investment in our students, our campus goals and the entire region’s education pipeline,” says President John D. Keenan. “I could not be more proud of what Cummings Foundation’s support says about the high-quality academic programs Salem State offers.”

Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of the Salem State University Foundation, Inc. Cheryl Webster Crounse echoes the significance of the $10 million gift, saying, “An endowment fund of this magnitude reflects a true and unwavering commitment to the university. We are honored to be among the Cummings Affiliated Colleges and are thankful to Bill and Joyce Cummings for their steadfast support.”

To recognize the university’s continued partnership with Cummings Foundation, founded by Bill Cummings ’13H and Joyce Cummings ’13H, Salem State named its school of education, the university’s founding program, after alumnus James L. (Jamie) McKeown ’77, establishing the McKeown School of Education. The naming celebrates the legacy of McKeown, a Salem State alumnus, former Cummings Properties president and dedicated community leader who passed away unexpectedly 26 years ago at the age of 41. “The impact of this historic gift will be significant and far-reaching, paying lasting dividends to the school districts in which our students go on to serve,” says Joseph Cambone, dean of the McKeown School of Education.

Salem State University celebrated the naming of the McKeown School of Education in November 2022 with a formal dedication. At the event, Dean Cambone announced the official launch of the Center for Educational Leadership at Salem State University (CEL@SSU) to help strengthen the North Shore’s school leader workforce—the first of many education initiatives that the $10 million contribution will fund.

“The center will transform the way we serve school districts throughout the region and Commonwealth,” says Cambone. “Our embeddedness with regional school districts for many years has demonstrated that Salem State can play a central role in fostering educational justice in the communities that surround us. This is just the start of how Cummings Foundation’s generous gift allows us to grow our positive impact on the region.”

Additional efforts that the McKeown School of Education will pursue with Cummings Foundation’s support include diversifying the educator pipeline for all teacher license areas, including growing the cohort-based Educator-Scholars of Color initiative; preparing educators to meet student needs beyond PreK-12 education, such as early childhood literacy through the Jumpstart initiative; and supporting pathways to licensure for hundreds of emergency-licensed teachers in the region; among others. 

“This contribution marks the second time in as many years that Salem State has broken the record for receiving the largest cash gift in Massachusetts state university history. This distinction speaks volumes about the depth of support for our students and the work being done across campus.”

 –President John D. Keenan

Alumni Relations
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