Community Engagement

A Legacy of Giving

Gary Brancaleone and Beth Benson make a lasting impact with scholarship gift

A man and woman posing in front of the rear-end of a car with a license plate that reads "GO OU"


icon of a calendarMarch 12, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Catherine Ticer

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For alumni Gary Brancaleone and Beth Benson, their connection to Oakland University is literally life changing. While they credit the university for preparing them to be successful in their careers, they are also grateful that their commitment to OU brought them together as a couple. The two met while serving on the School of Business Administration Alumni Board – a board on which they would both eventually serve as president.

For Gary, Oakland University changed the trajectory of his life. “I grew up in Sterling Heights and was destined to work at the Ford factory,” says Brancaleone, whose academic journey consisted of working at the factory during the day and attending classes at night. He earned a Bachelor of Science in finance from OU’s School of Business Administration in 1982. “The only time I ever saw my father cry was when I got my diploma,” he explains. Currently, Brancaleone is the director of investor education at Portfolio Solutions in Troy, Michigan.

“Oakland University has had such an important role in so many aspects of our lives,” says Benson, who earned a Bachelor of Science in management from OU’s School of Business Administration in 1981 and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. She recently retired from a 34-year career at Blue Cross Blue Shield where, in her most recent role, she was responsible for financial and administrative oversight of the 1,600-member Service Operations group. She is presently enrolled in the culinary arts program at Oakland Community College.

The couple’s devotion to the university has been significant. Longtime volunteers, leaders, champions and donors, Brancaleone and Benson recently expanded their support of OU through a blended gift, consisting of an immediate gift and an estate gift, which allows them to support the areas that matter to them today and leave a lasting legacy for tomorrow.

A bequest established by Brancaleone and Benson names OU as a beneficiary of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This gift will support the Oakland University Alumni Association Scholarship program, which offers renewable legacy awards to individuals whose parent, grandparent or sibling received a degree or academic certificate from OU.

Their pledge provides for the immediate establishment of two scholarships – the Gary J. Brancaleone Endowed Scholarship for Women’s Athletics and the Beth D. Benson Endowed Scholarship in Instrumental Performance.

Brancaleone, who served as the inaugural president of the Golden Grizzlies Champion’s Club Advisory Board, designated his scholarship to provide support for students associated with traditionally underfunded women’s athletics. Benson, who was an oboe and piano player and considered a career in performing arts prior to completing her degree in business administration, designed her gift to assist students who wish to pursue careers in musical performance. Her scholarship is dedicated to the memory of two collegiate friends who enriched her experience at Oakland University: Julie Tomasi and Susan Stine.

Both scholarships have also been listed as designations of Brancaleone’s and Benson’s estate gift, ensuring these funds will make an important difference in the lives of students today and for years to come.

Learn more about the impact of a blended gift by visiting or calling the
Office of Planned Giving at (248) 370-4389.

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