Halcyon Mancuso Krebs, FSU English professor, and her husband, Thomas Krebs, launched the Mancuso English, Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences Scholarships with a $2.4 million donation in March 2018.
This donation, the largest in the University’s history, was announced on April 24.
These full-ride scholarships will allow select students enrolled in majors in the College of Arts and Humanities and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences to attend FSU debt-free. The scholarships will cover tuition, fees, and room and board for up to four years.
FSU will start awarding the scholarships in the fall 2019 semester, beginning with the Mancuso English Scholarship – available every year – and the Mancuso Humanities Scholarship – available every other year. The Humanities Scholarship can be awarded to students majoring in art history, communication arts, history, world languages and liberal studies.
The Mancuso Social Sciences Scholarship will begin to be awarded starting in fall 2020, and is also available every other year.
Mancuso Krebs has taught at FSU for 18 years, starting in 2000. While she is currently a part-time instructor, she was formerly a full-time professor and taught professional writing.
Mancuso Krebs said, “I had a few English majors take that course, but not as many as I had really hoped. But I did get a lot of computer science majors, nutrition majors, comm arts majors and business majors.”
She noticed the students in these majors were better prepared for the type of professional writing required for their careers than some English majors.
“And that shouldn’t be,” she said. “English majors, humanities majors – they’re supposed to be very flexible in their thinking.”
Mancuso Krebs added, “Writing is the symbolic act of thinking.”
It was this observation that led Mancuso Krebs to think about the direction in which English – her “personal love” – and humanities education were heading, she said. Wanting to see more career and professional preparation for students in the arts, humanities and social sciences, she said she began to think about a way her department could adapt to her vision.
In 2015, when Mancuso Krebs became a part-time instructor, she said she had more time to think about and develop a prospective scholarship in order for students to not only be able to focus more on career preparation, but also devote more time to academically enriching extracurricular activities.
Mancuso Krebs said her motivation for developing the scholarships stemmed from thinking about her own background. “I was very, very fortunate to have a family that could afford to pay for my education. My children – who are all grown now – they were very fortunate to have a family that could pay for their college.
“And they all came out of college without debt, which really can often limit your choices. What are you going to do if you have a lot of debt?”
Mancuso Krebs said she wants students to be able to have “the full experience of college,” which includes career mentorship and strong involvement in campus life and activities – things she said students often miss out on if they have to work to be able to afford college.
“Over the years, many of my students have had fairly significant job requirements. When you have those kinds of commitments, you can’t go to clubs. You can’t have the same opportunities that I did – that my kids did – that helped them to be employed,” she said. “It becomes this vicious circle.”
Desmond McCarthy, chair of the English department, said, “I think Professor Mancuso’s extraordinarily generous gift will raise the profile of the English department at Framingham State specifically, and arts and humanities more generally – not just at Framingham State, but throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
Susan Dargan, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said, “It is so amazing what she’s doing – that she decided to include social and behavioral sciences.”
Dargan added, “It will give some students the opportunity to have a degree that they love and not have to worry about working 30 hours a week.” Dargan said she hopes scholarship awardees will be able to become more engaged with their community and initiate projects of their own.
The scholarships are open to all students who graduate from a Massachusetts high school starting in the spring of 2019. Mancuso Krebs said small committees of 3 – 4 people will choose the recipients, looking for a GPA of at least 3.5 and qualities such as “strong ‘studentship’ skills, habits of mind, critical thinking skills, and writing ability.”
[Editor’s note: Desmond McCarthy is the advisor of The Gatepost.]