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Santa Monica College Foundation Receives $1 Million Grant
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By Lookout Staff

December 9, 2016 -- What began as an after-class conversation over pie and coffee four decades ago has led to a $1 million gift for the Santa Monica College Foundation.

The grant, announced by college officials Thursday, was presented by longtime Pacific Palisades philanthropist Miriam “Mitzi” Blahd to honor the legacy of retired SMC political science professor and former KCRW talk show host Harvey Stromberg, who taught a Chinese history class Blahd took 42 years ago.

It will fund scholarships in Stromberg’s name, as well as the filming of ‘Living Histories’ of eight students enrolled in the SMC Emeritus Program for older adults.

Picture of Mitzi Blahd
Miriam “Mitzi” Blahd (Photos courtesy of Santa Monica College)

The scholarships and films, said SMC Superintendent/President and SMC Foundation board member Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, "will not only provide extremely deserving students an opportunity to expand their world beyond their wildest expectations, but also record for posterity the incredible life stories of some of our Emeritus College students.

"Moreover, Mrs. Blahd's gift acknowledges the impact SMC Professor Harvey Stromberg has made on the many students he has taught and inspired in 40 years."

Blahd and her late husband, Dr. William Blahd, a pioneering nuclear medicine physician and author, forged a decades-long friendship with Stromberg after she brought slides from their recent trip to China to share with the class.

Picture of Harvey Stromberg
Harvey Stromberg

She knew immediately after sharing pie and coffee with the professor that “this was somebody special.”

“He is such a great teacher," said Blahd, "that’s why he stands out.”

Blahd has spent a lifetime giving to charitable causes. Her first foray into philanthropy came when she was ten.

"I baked cookies and invited 25 neighbors to come hear me play Flight of the Bumblebee," Blahd recalled. "I raised two dollars and fifty cents and sent it to a children’s hospital in Denver."

Blahd credits education for her lifetime of giving. "To be able to help so many people is just my joy. I am grateful that I am able to do it.”

Stromberg, who continues to teach part-time at the Emeritus Program, says Blahd "will certainly leave a legacy behind."

“Mitzi is a very generous person who has supported education all her life and she knew SMC was my life for 40 years,” says Stromberg, who continues to teach part-time at the Emeritus Program. “She wanted future generations of students to benefit from these scholarships.

"Many deserving students will be either able to continue their education or go to Washington D.C., and I know that will mean a lot to them," he said.

Blahd’s gift will provide $500,000 to establish the Harvey Stromberg Leadership Scholarship and will provide ten students with $500 scholarships annually in perpetuity, officials said.

It also will provide four SMC students with $5,000 internships annually through the Stromberg Scholars for Dale Ride Internship endowment, which sends selected students to Washington, D.C. for eight weeks, where they serve as interns in government and the public sector.

The other $500,000 will provide funding for the production of “living history” stories. The college also will rename a lecture hall in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building on its main campus the “Professor Harvey Stromberg Lecture Hall”.

“The impact that Mitzi’s gift cannot be overstated,” said Lizzy Moore, SMC Interim Dean of Institutional Advancement. “Its fruits will be seen in our students’ lives and that of their families and in others they go on to influence and serve.”

For more information on the Santa Monica College Foundation, please visit or email Lizzy Moore at

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