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Costa Establishes Scholarship, Hopes to Repay his Alma Mater

In 1968, a young Frank Costa ’73 was looking for an excellent journalism program. When he found the University of Tennessee, his life was forever changed. Costa says that although he was born in New York, he really grew up in Tennessee.

young Frank“My college experience was THE pivotal experience in my young adult life,” said Costa. “I developed a sense of who I was and that there were many other kids who thought and felt the same things I did.  UT also gave me the sense that I could accomplish what I set out to do. Professors like Herb Howard, Kelly Leiter and June Adamson were encouraging and nurturing, and I have never forgotten their kindness and patience.”

Because of his positive UT experience, Costa, along with his wife Betsy, has been a generous financial supporter over the years. Recently, Costa wrote UT into his will by creating a bequest to establish the Frank S. and Betsy K. Costa Endowed Communications Scholarship. Costa believes in the transformative powers of education and that attending UT changed his life.

“In tough economic times, those who have been fortunate need to give something back,” said Costa.  “I don’t know that I could ever repay UT for what it has given me, but I’m trying. I believe in UT, and support it in any way I can.”

The Frank S. and Betsy K. Costa Endowed Communications Scholarship will benefit Frank and Betsyfuture College of Communication and Information (CCI) students based on merit and financial need.

“If my gift helps future students enjoy the college experience the way I did and allows them to get a leg up on a satisfying career, I will be quite satisfied,” said Costa. “I come from a middle class family that believes education is the pathway to a better life. Helping someone else accomplish more than they might otherwise have achieved, will help not only that person but their children as well.”

Costa, now living in Boca Raton, Fla., has been a supporter of CCI for many years. When his family became partners in Frank Costa Investments Inc., he raised his annual contributions but still felt he hadn’t given back what UT gave to him. After a consultation with his financial adviser, Costa felt a significant estate gift would be a fitting supplement to his annual giving.

“Hopefully, I’ll be making a lot more gifts to UT before my estate gift kicks in,” quipped Costa. “I loved everything about my college experience and want to help others experience what I did.”

Costa found great inspiration in Professor Herb Howard. “He had, I believe, polio as a kid. He struggled to get around, yet he was never angry or bitter. He was able to overcome his significant disabilities and become a college professor. I always found him to be an inspiration, as well as a great teacher. His example helped me overcome obstacles in my life, and I never forgot his kindness to a know-it-all-kid from New York.”

This gift is part of the Campaign for Tennessee, a $1 billion fundraising effort of UT. The College of Communication and Information’s goal for the campaign, which began in 2005 and runs through 2011, is $10 million. The college has raised 95% of its campaign goal.