A $690,000 gift from the estate of Ann Patterson ’80 (M.S., Accounting) is now the largest single donation to the Michael S. Patterson Endowed Scholarship Fund, named for Ann’s late husband, who taught United States history at CSUN from 1969 until his death in 1993.
The Michael S. Patterson Endowed Scholarship Fund provides scholarships for promising history majors or graduate students who are currently enrolled, or who will be enrolled, in a credential program through CSUN’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education or Social Science Subject Matter Program (SSSMP). The new gift supports many initiatives, including scholarships for students pursuing a new degree option that allows them to get their B.A. in History and a Single Subject Credential at the same time. More than 75 students have been recognized with scholarships since the fund was established in 1995.
“I’m so eternally grateful for the scholarship I received,” said Kelly Clark ’13 (History), a past recipient of the Michael S. Patterson Scholarship, who earned her single-subject teaching credential through the CSUN Eisner College in 2019. She is currently working on a Master of Arts in history, and she hopes to complete a Master of Education at CSUN in the future. “It allows me to focus on my studies and not have to work full time. I’m a part-time teacher, and it helps me to be able to prioritize my students and my own studies.”
The planned gift from Ann Patterson’s estate is just the latest in her legacy of giving to CSUN, said Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrens, chair of the Department of History. In addition to several previous donations to the Michael S. Patterson Endowed Scholarship Fund, Ann’s generous assistance helped the department establish the Michael Patterson History Writing Center, where history graduate students provide one-on-one tutoring to undergraduates. Ann and Michael Patterson were advocates for good writing and clear communication.
“What the donation from the Patterson family did was give the Department of History the gift of time to help our undergraduates to improve their writing,” said Clementine Oliver, history professor and director of the writing center. “The writing center and the writing tutors became a lifeline during the pandemic and a way for students to retain engagement with their work, that might have slipped away.”
Planned giving plays a pivotal role in advancing the university’s mission and helping students realize their educational dreams.
“This generous and thoughtful planned gift from Ann Patterson through her estate not only honors the legacy of her husband, Dr. Michael Patterson, but also makes a very real difference in the lives of our history students,” said CSUN President Erika D. Beck. “A gift like this ensures we can provide more students with larger scholarships, thereby fostering the success of future educators who will teach the next generation. It is a shining example of the type of catalytic change that is made possible through thoughtful estate planning. It also serves as a benchmark for the kinds of planned gifts that create pivotal and lasting endowments that allow CSUN to make sure finances never present a barrier to student success.”
Ann Patterson, who passed away Dec. 20, 2020, planned her gift to CSUN “to be impactful and transformative,” according to her sister, Della Coulter, of Columbia, South Carolina.
“Ann had been supporting Michael’s scholarship fund for a long time,” Coulter said, adding that her sister worked at the University of Southern California (USC) for 25 years, and at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for 10 years.
“She had been in university budgeting and planning, and she knew the value and importance of an endowed scholarship and what a gift of a substantial size could do,” Coulter said. “She really wanted to honor Michael’s legacy as a teacher and his memory, with a gift that was substantial enough to make a real difference on the campus.”
For Coulter, knowing that her sister’s estate is helping students like Clark is especially meaningful.
“She and Michael were passionate about history,” Coulter said. “They wanted people to learn the lessons of history and to preserve and foster democratic institutions. She wanted to help people who were passionate about teaching the meaning of history.”
Michael Patterson taught in the Department of History from 1969, when CSUN was known as San Fernando Valley State College, until his death in 1993. The scholarship endowment named for him was originally established with donations from CSUN colleagues, history alumni and family, including Ann Patterson. Past Patterson scholarship recipients have gone on to teach history in middle schools and high schools in Los Angeles and beyond.
“CSUN history alumni teach at high schools throughout the San Fernando Valley,” Fitzpatrick-Behrens said.
Ann Patterson earned her undergraduate degree from Duke University and a Master of Science in Accounting from CSUN’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics in 1980. She started her career in the School of Engineering at USC and eventually became USC’s senior administrative director of budget and planning. After 25 years at USC, she continued her career at Caltech as senior budget and planning officer.