Donor Shares Reasons for Making Largest Gift in College History
Every year, Thomas and Mary Shields meet with student recipients of the Shields Scholarship at Stonehill. Usually in Donahue Hall, the event is a highlight for the couple as they sit and talk with students, hearing how the recipients are making the most of their education and are nurtured by their professors.
“On the way home in the car, Mary and I have the best conversations as we discuss what the students have told us over dinner. The buzz is great, and we are always invigorated by their stories and by what they are achieving. It is a joyful occasion because the students are wonderful ambassadors for the quality of a Stonehill education,” explains Tom Shields, the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Shields Health Care Group.
Impressed by the level of education at the College, Tom and Mary wanted to do something special for Stonehill. So, they presented the College with the largest gift in its 62-year history- $7 million.
“We wanted to encourage Stonehill to move even further ahead with its academic mission and to do something very good for the new Science Center,” says Shields in explaining the gift from him and his wife, who is also his trusted business partner.
In turn, the College showed its appreciation in September at the dedication of the 89,630-square-foot Science Center when President Mark Cregan, C.S.C. ’78 announced that the building will be known as the Thomas and Mary Shields Science Center.
“We are touched that the College has recognized us like this because we feel part of the Stonehill community. Our friendships here are long-standing and every time we come to campus, we are excited by the students, faculty and staff, and by what’s happening at the College,” Shields explains.
“I thought I’d get a very good bang for my investment,” Shields remarks of his gift which supports the College’s current Attaining the Summit campaign.
Headquartered in Quincy, Shield’s network of imaging centers extends throughout New England. He and Mary began the family-owned business in 1972, when they opened the Madalawn Nursing Home in Brockton.
In 1986, Shields established the first independent community MRI center in Brockton. The company now operates 28 medical imagining facilities in New England.
Shields has a long association with Stonehill. He is a former chairman of the Board of Trustees, now a trustee emeritus, and with his wife created a scholarship program that benefits 10 students each year. Two of the Shields’ seven children – William ’84 and Thomas ’92- graduated from Stonehill; and their daughter, Carmel, is a trustee.
Shields was also chairman of the College’s first capital campaign, Securing the Vision, which raised $23 million between 1992 and 1997.
The Attaining the Summit campaign has a goal of $55 million, targeted for the Science Center, scholarships, academic initiatives and athletics. The Shields’ gift of $7 million brought the total to $49 million, more than double what was raised in the first campaign.
“Tom and Mary are true and loyal friends,” says Fr. Cregan. “We wanted to thank them in a significant way for their generosity. By dedicating the Science Center in their honor, we have ensured that the Shields legacy at Stonehill is recognized at a high-profile location on campus, one that is a hub of activity for students and faculty.”
The Shields Science Center is the largest building on campus, housing the biology, chemistry, physics and psychology departments. It features innovative laboratory space that integrates cutting-edge research and teaching. Combined classroom/labs allow students to swiftly translate theory into practice while faculty offices are designed to promote interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration. Given all that, the $7 million donation was a natural, Shields notes.
“You don’t do these things without having a deep understanding of the people at the College, I enjoy it and my wife enjoys it. We feel good about it. No buyer’s remorse,” he says.
Story from the Stonehill Alumni Magazine, Winter | Spring 2010.