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Bill Dickinson

Bill Dickinson
When Bill Dickinson (Cowell '68) came to UC Santa Cruz in search of an innovative education, he also found a home.

Bill vividly recalls when Page Smith, founding provost of Cowell College, invited him to spend a holiday at his house on campus. He wandered through the house, spellbound by the walls of books and the abundance of artwork. Lending him their house on campus was one of many small kindnesses that the Smiths extended to Dickinson, who as a former foster child, had no home to return to when the university closed for the holidays. "I could have taken ten classes and they never would have taught me as much about how life could look," he remembers.

Nearly three decades later, in gratitude to the Smiths, Bill created a living legacy to Page and his wife Eloise by establishing the Smith Renaissance Society. Bill chose to make a planned gift to ensure the Smith Renaissance Society will carry on after his lifetime. He created a Charitable Remainder Trust through the sale of real estate because it will create an endowment for the Smith Society in the future, while providing Bill with an annual income for the rest of his life.

The Smith Society supports students from foster homes and those without parental support with scholarships and a self-perpetuating community of support. Over the past 15 years, over 355 students have participated. The graduation rate of Smith Collegiate Fellows, as they are known, is higher than the UC and UCSC average. Bill says, "I have always loved Margaret Mead's idea that a small group of committed people can change the world. I learned at UC Santa Cruz how to take an idea and not just say 'isn't that a nice idea' but ask how you actually go live it."

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