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Carlow University alumna gives record $5 million donation

Rita McGinley wants generations of students to share the experience she enjoyed at Carlow University in Oakland.

McGinley, 89, a 1940 Carlow alumna, has given her alma mater the largest gift in its history: $5 million to create and endow the Rita M. McGinley Center for Student Success.

"I came to Carlow and never regretted it for a second," McGinley said. "I had many wonderful teachers and made many dear friends. I gave this gift so that Carlow can use it to help people have the same experience I did."

McGinley, who grew up in Braddock, was a biology major who taught science in the General Braddock and then Woodland Hills school districts. Her family, which is related to the Rooney family, is a minority owner in the Steelers. McGinley's father, Barney, teamed with the late Art Rooney Sr. to buy back the franchise he briefly sold in the 1940s.

The Rita M. McGinley Center for Student Success will be part of the planned Carlow University Learning Commons, which will be located in the Grace Library at the center of campus.

The center will include Carlow's Center for Academic Achievement, the Learning Laboratory for Math Education, the Service Learning Center, the Mercy Center for Service, the Center for Global Studies and the Center for Faculty Excellence.

Plans include a literacy lab in writing and technology, and a language lab to support global education.

The university does not yet know when work on the center will begin, Carlow spokeswoman Louise Cavanaugh Sciannameo said.

Carlow's second-largest individual donation was received nine months ago when Michele Rehfeld Atkins, Class of 1982, gave $1.5 million to endow a chair in ethics. About 2,300 students are enrolled at Carlow, most of them women.

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