NYU Scholarship Program Gains Endowment, Honors Benson

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New York University's Center for Direct Marketing said yesterday that its master of science program in direct marketing communications now has an endowed scholarship program to honor one of the world's great practitioners of direct marketing strategy, Richard V. Benson.

NYU's master's program in direct marketing communications is the first of its kind in the United States.

The fund has already raised more than $240,000 toward its goal of a $350,000 endowment, according to NYU. Benson scholarships will be awarded each fall -- with one major recipient and several minor awards, depending on the income from the endowment.

This semester, Alexis Bonnell, the director of marketing for the Association for Interactive Media, New York, will be the first recipient of the Richard V. Benson Memorial Scholarship. Bonnell will earn her master's degree in direct marketing.

"We are grateful to be able to honor Dick Benson, and to recognize a young professional who is dedicated to the professional growth and opportunities available through the discipline of direct marketing," said Lynda Confessore, associate director at the Center for Direct Marketing, part of NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

"Winning the Benson Scholarship was such a thrill and a blessing," Bonnell said. "The process was very intense, the [scholarship steering] committee was very determined to really understand the applicant, and our commitment and plans for the industry. Mr. Benson was a direct marketing hero to many, cutting new paths in direct marketing. To be the first recipient of the scholarship in his name is such an honor."

Benson, who died in 1996, was a noted entrepreneur, consultant and author who was instrumental in the successful launch of many American magazines and newsletters through the use of direct mail and direct marketing. He also was an adviser to many businesses and organizations on the science behind direct marketing strategy, offers, lists and response analysis.

Benson's friends in the industry formed a committee to raise funds for an endowed scholarship at NYU that will perpetuate his memory by aiding students in the master's program who seek a career in the direct marketing field.

"So many direct marketing leaders today are indebted to Dick Benson's philosophy of business and marketing," said John S. Suhler, chairman at Veronis, Suhler & Associates and chairman of the Richard V. Benson Memorial Scholarship Fund Steering Committee. "Alexis imbues the qualities the committee will look for in future candidates -- brilliance, accomplishment, honesty and independence -- all hallmarks of Dick's storied career. She is driven, a sponge for information, and will be a wonderful ambassador for scholarship recipients in years ahead."
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