Ron and Sandi Simon
Ron and Sandi Simon received the Citizens of the Year Award at Chapman Celebrates. Ron, a Chapman University trustee, is founder of the Simon Foundations, which pledged $9 million to establish the Simon Scholars PA Program.

$9M Simon Foundations Gift to Provide Scholarships to Physician Assistants at Chapman The Simon Scholars PA Program is announced at the Chapman Celebrates Gala.

Future students in Chapman University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program will have the opportunity to complete their educations tuition-free thanks to a $9 million gift from the Simon Foundations.

Future students in Chapman University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program will have the opportunity to complete their educations tuition-free thanks to a $9 million gift from the Simon Foundations.

Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa announced the gift at the University’s annual scholarship gala, Chapman Celebrates, where Ron and Sandi Simon were also presented with the Citizens of the Year Award. The Simon Foundations have long been dedicated to the cause of helping needy students pursue college educations. With the new Simon Scholars PA Program, that scholarship support now extends to the graduate level.

The Simon Tradition of Giving

“Ron and Sandi Simon personify what it means to influence change and transform lives,” Struppa said. “They focus on helping young students who don’t typically think about college, and their results speak for themselves; 98% of Simon Scholars are first-generation students and 96% are accepted to a four-year college. As of today, their program has benefited more than 1,000 students. We are honored by the opportunity to partner with them.”

Beginning in 2021, the program will provide 10 full-tuition scholarships every year for five years to underserved students who want to earn their Master’s in Medical Science (MMS) at Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

Demand for Physician Assistants

Addressing healthcare education is particularly important now, says Janeen Hill, Ph.D., dean of Crean College.

“As the population grows and ages, there’s a dire need for health care. Plus, there is a projected shortage of healthcare professionals. Physician assistants can help meet this need. Increasing the number of PA’s decreases healthcare costs, as it costs less to educate PA’s than medical doctors,” Hill said.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges  (AAMC), the United States will see a shortage of up to nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032 as demand for physicians continues to grow faster than supply.

Admission to Chapman University’s PA program is highly competitive; just 6% of applicants are admitted annually. The Simon Scholars PA Program will seek highly qualified and underserved students. Alumni will also be asked to commit to working for three years in Orange County to meet the growing demand in this community.

Currently, Simon Scholars include high school and undergraduate college students. Each year, 120 high school students are selected as Simon Scholars. There are 230 Scholars in the High School Program and more than 450 in the College Program. To date, the foundation has provided more than $45 million in scholarship assistance.

A Night of Scholarship Support

The scholarship announcement capped off an especially successful Chapman Celebrates, the University’s single largest fundraiser that supports the Chapman Fund, which has helped generations of students attain their dreams. This year the event raised $1.5 million for student scholarships.

A highlight of Gala Night included a performance by artist and singer Vanessa Williams, who performed the Grammy-nominated “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s “Pocahontas.” Williams, a Chapman parent, was also presented with the University’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award.

At Friday’s Opening Night, Emmy-winning television producer Brenda Brkusic Milinkovic ’04 was honored with the Alumni Achievement Award.

Dawn Bonker

Dawn Bonker