Finish Line Fund Targets Student Success

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recently established a new fund to help LAS students who are within one semester of graduation, but have a financial hold on their account due to unforeseen circumstances, which prevents registration for their final classes or receipt of their diploma.

“We discovered that there were a surprising number of students who were in good academic standing, but were unable to either register for that last semester or obtain their diploma because of a financial hold due to outstanding debt with the university. In many cases the amount of money owed was quite small – just a few hundred dollars,” explained Marya Schechtman, LAS Associate Dean and Professor of Philosophy. “I found this just heartbreaking. These students have worked so hard and because of an unforeseen difficulty their degree remains just out of reach. It was clear to me that the College should devise a way to help these students.”

Schechtman worked with Dean Astrida Orle Tantillo and the College’s senior administration to establish the Finish Line Fund, which will provide assistance to students whose progress is hampered by financial challenges in their last semester.

Some of these students have exhausted loans and other forms of financial aid. Others have encountered challenging personal or family circumstances (such as an illness, a job loss, or a car accident). This semester, the Finish Line Fund helped an LAS student who maintained a very high grade point average while working multiple jobs to pay for her education. However, she was ineligible for further financial assistance and had an unpaid balance on her account, which would have prevented her from receiving her diploma. With help from the Finish Line Fund, this student will graduate this semester and meet the world with her UIC diploma in hand.

Recently, Patricia Hausknost (BA ’74) and Gretchen Winter (BA ’79), both LAS alumnae and LAS Board of Visitors members, have stepped up and agreed to endow the Finish Line Fund so that contributions made to the fund will continue to grow and provide emergency relief to meritorious students in perpetuity.

Hausknost, a member of the LAS Board of Visitors since 2009, said, ”As I believe much of the success I have enjoyed in my life is a result of having had the opportunity to attend and graduate from UIC, when I heard of this situation I knew immediately that there was no better way to give back.”

“I hope the financial gifts this fund makes possible will inspire the students who receive them to give back and help others at our alma mater when they are in a position to do so,” said Winter, a founding member of the LAS Board of Visitors. “The Finish Line Fund helps students at a time when they are almost ready to take the next step in their career and their lives. The positive and significant impact of enabling students to finish what they started should make a real difference in their confidence and ability to live out their dreams.”

“We are so grateful and thrilled that Ms. Hausknost and Ms. Winter have agreed to provide leadership gifts that will ensure the future of the Finish Line Fund,” said Schechtman. “Regardless of the specific reason for a financial hold, these talented, hard-working, and promising LAS students are within sight of their finish line—their college degrees. Through the generosity of these outstanding alumnae, we can look forward to being able to help LAS students cross the finish line, get their diploma, and begin their journeys as college graduates who will change the world.”


To learn more about donating to the Finish Line Fund, please contact Assistant Dean for Advancement, Katherine Veach, at 312.413.3469 or