Bernard Daly's Promise
The Enduring Legacy of a Place-based Scholarship
Published in cooperation with the Dr. Daly Project Association
Bernard Daly escaped the Irish Famine and with his family emigrated to America, where he became the town doctor in Lakeview, Oregon, and then a state legislator, Oregon Agricultural College regent, county judge, rancher, and banker. When he died in 1920, his estate, valued at about a million dollars, established a college scholarship for the youth of Lake County, ensuring that most of them could attend college.
It’s hard to imagine a place more distant from higher education than Lake County in south central Oregon, a county about the size of New Jersey with a population under eight thousand. When the Bernard Daly scholarship was first awarded in 1922, less than two percent of America’s youth went to college, and the percentage was even lower in Lake County.
Today, Lake County students are much more likely to go to college, graduate in four years without debt, go on to graduate school, have successful careers, and contribute to the larger community—all because of a scholarship established a hundred years ago by an immigrant who sought a better life, not only for himself but also for others.
Drawing on more than a hundred personal interviews, an extensive web-based survey, and archival materials, Bernard Daly’s Promise offers unique insights into the benefits of higher education and how it might best be supported—questions that we are struggling with today.
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