Pitt Scholars & Stewards: The Binding Ties of a Pitt Education

Issue Date: 
September 20, 2010
Leslie Hoffman and R. Donald HoffmanLeslie Hoffman and R. Donald Hoffman

Philanthropy is a family tradition for University of Pittsburgh faculty members R. Donald and Leslie Hoffman. A brother-sister team, both of the Hoffmans have created scholarships for Pitt dental and nursing students in the hopes of lessening the students’ financial pressures as they pursue their academic dreams.

Donald Hoffman is associate dean for education and curriculum within Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine; Leslie Hoffman, chair of the Department of Acute/Tertiary Care in the School of Nursing, teaches doctoral courses and mentors students with research interests in critical care, pulmonary nursing, and nursing administration.

The Hoffmans grew up in Bedford County, 100 miles east of Pittsburgh. They watched as their father, a local veterinarian, and uncle, a native of nearby Adams County, established trusts to make a difference in their hometowns. Their uncle’s trust supports historical, cultural, and health care initiatives in Adams County; their father’s endowed scholarship, The Dr. Roy D. Hoffman Scholarship Fund, supports high school graduates from farm families in Bedford and Fulton counties who seek a four-year, two-year, or trade-school education. The Hoffman siblings were impressed by the gifts’ impact and decided to help their own students at Pitt.

When Leslie Hoffman celebrated her 60th birthday, many of her former and current students and colleagues honored her commitment to the School of Nursing and created a research scholarship in her name: the Leslie A. Hoffman Endowed Acute Care Nursing Research Fund. “This was such a nice way for them to continue funding for the pulmonary specialty—something that’s near and dear to my heart,” she says. The fund supports research projects by current doctoral students and Pitt School of Nursing alumni. She has made her own contributions and expresses pride that two awards from the fund were offered in the 2009-10 academic year.

Donald Hoffman’s scholarship, The R. Donald Hoffman, DMD, PhD Scholarship Fund, reflects both his affection for his hometown and his respect for future dentists. “I want to encourage young men and women who are originally from Bedford County to come to Pitt for their dental education and then return to Bedford County,” he says. “Pitt’s Dental Med currently has very few scholarships,” he adds. “I really wanted my gift to go to training the next generation of dentists who will serve the residents of this rural county.”

The Hoffmans say they are proud to help others through their scholarships. “The research award in the School of Nursing may be modest—if you’re comparing it with some large NIH grants,” Leslie Hoffman explains. “But this research fund can make the difference between a researcher being able to obtain pilot data from a small project that may later be funded on a larger scale and not being able to start it at all.”

“Pitt has an excellent quality of education for students,” Donald Hoffman says, “And, through this scholarship, I can continue to contribute to their futures.”