SMC receives $1 mil for Online Education

The Santa Monica College Foundation recently received $1 million for online education, the largest donation that the SMC Foundation has ever received for technology.

Given by Conrad Lee Klein and Joan Dempsey Klein, the donation creates the Conrad Lee Klein Fund for Online Education. The Kleins hope to give back to students who may be struggling with financial obligations.

“Joan and I both understand the problems of poverty,” Klein said. “We were fortunate to overcome them. We want to try to help others so they too can find their way up the ladder of success. We believe that through technology, you can reach students of all economic levels.”

The first $1 million will be used for the maintenance of the college's existing online education program. A remaining $25,000 is to be used for other school initiatives.

Today, Conrad Lee Klein serves as president of the Mark Hughes Charity Foundation and Joan Dempsey Klein is the senior appellate justice in the state of California. She also serves as president of the National Association of Women Judges.

The Kleins both come from working backgrounds, where higher education helped them get ahead.

"My father didn’t believe that girls needed education, were entitled to an education, or should have an education,” said Joan Dempsey Klein. “So it was a tough scramble for me to move on from the lifestyles of my mother and father. For me, education was the way to go.”

SMC President and Superintendent Dr. Chui L. Tsang applauded the donation and believes it will be a great help to untraditional students.

“Online education provides an increasingly vital alternative to the traditional college classroom setting,” Tsang said in a press release. “Working people, parents, individuals with disabilities, people who live outside the Santa Monica area and many others who cannot regularly attend classes on campus will benefit immensely from this extremely generous gift.”

"This gift will allow SMC to use widely available technology to broaden the scope of its offerings and serve many more students throughout the community and state,” said Vanessa Butler, director of the SMC Foundation, in a statement.

“We do not claim superior intelligence in the fields of education or electronic or online education," said Conrad when asked how the money will be used specifically. "It’s a fabulously growing science, and we gave without limits or restrictions.”