San Diego alumnus invests in UMD students’ futures and honors his parents’ memory
It’s been six long months since COVID-19 began making its presence known in Maryland, forcing lockdowns and layoffs and leaving many University of Maryland students struggling to pay for rent, utilities and basic necessities. In March, UMD began publicizing its Student Crisis Fund to help those students, relying on donations from the Maryland community. Two-thousand miles away in San Diego, California, Dr. Edward “Ted” Ball (B.S. ’72, biochemistry) was among the many who stepped up to help.
“I got an email about the Crisis Fund,” he said. “Basically, someone asked if I could help and I said sure. These are difficult times for so many people.”
In August, thanks to the generosity of Ball and many others, the Student Crisis Fund marked a major milestone: the fund exceeded $1 million in grants, sending much-needed help to over 2,000 students in need. Hundreds of requests are still pending, money is being awarded as quickly as it comes in and new requests come in every day. So, every dollar makes a difference. And for alumni donors like Ball, it feels good to help.
“If I can give a few students a helping hand along the way, that’s a nice feeling,” he said.
Ball’s generosity has been making a difference for students in the university’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences for several years now. In 2016, Ball made a $55,000 commitment to establish the Edward and Della Ball Endowed Scholarship, creating a fund to support need- and merit-based scholarships for undergraduates interested in pursuing a career in medicine.
“I recognize the difficulty of the finances of going to college these days and I just thought I could do something that might make it a little bit easier,” Ball said. “I thought it was good to support someone who followed in my footsteps in a way.”
For Ball, now a successful hematologist and oncologist, the decision to establish an endowment at UMD could not have been more personal. He created the scholarship fund in memory of his parents, Edward and Della Ball, who died in 1969 when he was a freshman at UMD. His parents had just left the College Park campus when they were killed in a tragic accident.
“I wanted to honor them by having something that lives on forever,” he said. “They did so much for me before they passed away. Their support launched me into a pretty successful career. They were special people.”
The endowment honors their generosity and their commitment to academic excellence.
“My parents met in college right after World War II. We were not wealthy; we were firmly middle class,” Ball explained. “Both my mother and my father worked. My father was a city planner for the city of Washington. They probably couldn’t afford to be philanthropic themselves, at least at that time, but they were very generous people.”
And they encouraged their children to excel.
“I remember once in high school I got a C in something. My father was not pleased with me,” Ball recalled. “I said, ‘Well, come on, what’s wrong with being average?’ He did not like that. I guess it made an impact on me.”
Now a highly respected cancer researcher, Ball is a professor of medicine and director of the Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Program at the University of California San Diego. He’s been practicing medicine and doing medical research for decades and has been honored for his work treating blood-related cancers. Ironically, when he arrived at Maryland as a freshman in 1968, medicine wasn’t even on his radar. His first year at UMD changed everything.
“I thought I was going to be an engineer, but it only took me about six to eight weeks in the first semester to realize that wasn’t for me,” Ball recalled. “I met some people who were taking biology classes and I started auditing their classes and that’s when I fell in love with biology and decided I wanted to apply it to medicine. I’m past retirement age and I’m still doing it and I still love it.”
And now with his UMD endowment in its fifth year, Ball is helping a new generation of students achieve their academic goals. He’s received personal letters from some of the students, thanking him for his help and sharing their excitement about what’s ahead—students like biochemistry major Nicholas Lockhart, the most recent scholarship recipient, who hopes to pursue a career in medical research.
“I am very honored to have been selected for the Edward and Della Ball Scholarship,” Lockhart wrote. “By receiving this scholarship, I can focus more on my education itself rather than the logistics. I hope one day I can help others achieve their goals.”
For Ball, that’s what it’s all about. Giving back to UMD, honoring his parents’ legacy and paying it forward—one student at a time.
Media Relations Contact: Leslie Miller, 301-405-9267, email@example.com
About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 9,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $200 million.