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The presidents of Coconino Community College and Northern Arizona University are going to be paying some students' tuition.

The campus leaders pooled $40,000 of their personal resources to start the new CCC2NAU President's Scholarship, a tuition waiver that will support students who attend both institutions while earning their bachelor's degrees. The scholarship will support its first student at CCC this fall, with the winner to be determined in a few weeks.

CCC's Leah Bornstein, with her husband Joseph Findley, and NAU's John Haeger, with wife Cecily, each gave a $20,000 gift to start the endowment. The goal now is to grow the fund with help from additional donors.

"My husband and I hold several values to heart and we have our own philanthropic sort of plan," Bornstein said. "And higher education, the continued education of folks, is something that we hold very dear."

A selection team with members from both schools will determine winners. There are two separate pots of money -- one at CCC, one at NAU -- but the award will follow the student when he or she transfers.

The CCC portion of the scholarship will be $2,000 per year, roughly the cost of a year's worth of full-time tuition. A year of tuition only at NAU, using next year's rate, is roughly $8,500.

Bornstein said CCC and NAU developed the scholarship plan together as the next step for the successful CCC2NAU -- to put their money behind a program that they believed in, or put their money where their mouths are.

"The partnership between Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College has proven that universities and community colleges do not have to see themselves as competitors," Haeger said in a statement. "Dr. Bornstein and I are focused on student success at all levels. This scholarship affirms our shared belief that it is paramount to focus on getting students to the finish line of their degree path."


CCC2NAU is designed for CCC students who intend to earn their bachelor's degree at NAU, are not a current or former NAU student within the last 10 years, and who do not hold a bachelor's degree already. Students aren't required to earn an associate's degree or junior standing before moving on, although many do.

CCC2NAU calls itself a "transition" program instead of a transfer program. Students are connected to both institutions from the start, even when they're based at the community college. Academic advising comes from cross-trained staff with offices at CCC. CCC students in the pipeline get an NAU identification card and email address, and access to NAU's sporting events, student clubs, library, and the health and recreation center in addition to housing.

The program has grown quickly. It started in 2008 with 15 students. Last fall, 219 new students were accepted into the program. Since CCC2NAU's debut, several similar "2NAU" programs have started at community colleges around Arizona. And a recent study of the first few cohorts shows that program participants have better retention, graduation and grade-point averages than their general transfer peers.

Bornstein said the scholarship candidate pool is meant to be as open as possible. Financial need is preferred but not required. Applicants must have good academic standing and not be on social probation for behavioral problems. Current CCC students and new students finishing high school and preparing to enter CCC may apply. This year's application deadline has passed.

Although she is college president and a major donor, Bornstein will not be personally involved in picking winners. She is pleased to be giving, though.

"We actually saved for the last couple of years to get to this point, my husband and I, and this is our gift and part of our legacy to CCC," she said.

Hillary Davis can be reached at or 556-2261.


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