From a couple who gave so much to their community, the Reginald A. and Elizabeth S. Lenna Endowed Scholarship continues to give.
The endowment from the Reginald A. and Elizabeth S. Lenna Foundation will help local students who attend Jamestown Community College in Jamestown continue their education at St. Bonaventure University.
The Lennas’ many community projects and contributions included donations for the restoration of the historic Palace Theater in Jamestown (later named the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts), the Elizabeth S. Lenna Recital/Rehearsal Hall at the Chautauqua Institution, a war memorial project in Jamestown, and the new teleconference center at Jamestown Community College.
Along with their donations, the Lennas served on numerous boards and community organizations, including the Chautauqua Institution, banks, and their own foundation. Reginald Lenna was also a trustee at St. Bonaventure, later honored as a trustee emeritus, and both received the University's Gaudete Medal alongside their many other community awards.
Elizabeth “Betty” Lenna, who moved to the area at age 5, felt particularly close to her community — especially Jamestown Community College, where she graduated in 1973.
She wasn’t able to attend higher education until later in life. As a single, working mother, she struggled to balance work and family and did not have the resources. However, marrying Reginald Lenna in 1961 offered her a new opportunity.
“The first thing she wanted to do was go to school — to go to college. She started in JCC,” said Joe Johnson, president of the Lenna Foundation and a close friend with Betty Lenna for many years.
Graduating proved one of Betty Lenna’s proudest accomplishments.
“She was never more proud of anything in her life than that piece of paper that said she had an associate degree from JCC,” said Johnson. “She was a very smart woman, but she grew up in an era where her parents had no money and scholarships weren’t available, so that education became an important thing.”
The struggles that Betty dealt with encouraged her and Reginald to establish the endowed scholarship program and the Lenna Endowed Visiting Professorship, which was created in 1990 through their foundation. The professorship brings a professor each year to St. Bonaventure and JCC for at least two weeks to provide lectures and other learning opportunities on both campuses. Some notable names have included Robert Lax, Margaret Hermann, Robert Holmes, Dan Barry, and this year’s visiting professor, Greg Mitchell.
The Lennas’ passion for higher education was apparent through the establishment of the professorship and continues to be seen through the Reginald A. and Elizabeth S. Lenna Endowed Scholarship. Originally at $25,000, the endowment recently grew to $100,000 through additional gifts from the Lenna Foundation. The scholarship provides money for students at JCC in Jamestown who maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher to attend St. Bonaventure, helping many in the Jamestown community like Betty who could not afford college otherwise.
“She never forgot where she came from,” said Johnson. Betty was there for “the people who didn’t have a voice, the people who didn’t have a penny. She was always there.”
People interested in learning more about the scholarship should contact Troy Martin, director of financial aid, at (716) 375-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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