SMC — Santa Monica College’s Emeritus College received a $1.038 million gift from the estate of the late Zelda Herman, officials with the school announced Monday. The gift is the largest the Emeritus College has ever received and the fourth largest in the history of SMC.
“We are so grateful to receive this incredible gift and humbled by the generosity of the Herman family’s bequest,” said Ron Furuyama, Emeritus College associate dean. “This gift provides us with the opportunity to carry on in the fine tradition of Emeritus and provide our students with excellent programs and services.”
Herman, a long-time Santa Monica resident, died at the age of 99 in May 2009. She began taking Emeritus classes in 1982 and spent more than 20 years as an Emeritus College student, ending her last class in 2004.
While enrolled at Emeritus College, Herman’s husband died. She joined classes taught by professor Bonnie Kramer, who is now retired and living in Oregon, on topics such as bereavement support and implications of aging to address her anxiety and concern about aging and new-found independence after her husband’s death.
“She enrolled in every one of Bonnie’s classes she could,” said Herman’s granddaughter, Leesl Herman. “This gift is a tribute to Bonnie Kramer as much as it is to Emeritus College.”
Herman had previously stated that the Emeritus College, and specifically Kramer’s classes, provided a network of comfort and support. Family members also said that the college was known to be an integral part of Herman’s life.
SMC Public Information Officer Bruce Smith said no decisions have been made yet on how the gift will be spent. The head of Emeritus College plans to talk with Herman’s family members and decide together what programs the money will best aid.
Emeritus College was founded 35 years ago to serve older adults. It currently educates about 3,500 students through 150 classes and programs.