- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

At some point during his long career on Wall Street, Chris Randolph realized some things are more important than money.

Mr. Randolph spent 22 years as a vice president of Salomon Brothers and a managing director of Lehman Brothers, where he worked closely with several universities to raise capital and provide student loans.

Although he had many other clients, he quickly realized education was his favorite part of the job.

“I’ve always had an interest in higher education, even when I worked in finance,” said Mr. Randolph, who took the reins of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation in Alexandria four years ago.

“As a former Marine, I feel this is important work,” said Mr. Randolph, who served in the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970 and is a Vietnam vet. “I feel part of the family. There is an expression that I take to heart, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine.’ ”

The scholarship is open only to the children of honorably discharged Marines, and it is awarded strictly based on need. Still, the foundation rejects very few applicants.

“We hate to say no,” Mr. Randolph said of the foundation’s high acceptance rate.

It accepted 1,044 of 1,200 applicants in 2007, providing $3.5 million for the children of Marines to attend college last year. The average family income of the recipients was $41,000, about 60 percent less than the maximum allowed.

Mr. Randolph’s biggest challenge has been getting the word out. A relatively small number of applicants that could qualify for the scholarship applied last year, but increased marketing could produce a 25 percent increase in applications this year.

The idea of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation emerged in 1962 as a group of former Marines read the New York Times over lunch. One of the Marines noted a story about how a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient could not afford to send his child to college. On the very next page was a story about a charity ball raising funds for cats and dogs. The Marines concluded that the country’s priorities were out of whack, and hosted their own ball to raise funds for the veteran’s child.

Today, the foundation sponsors four military balls and 22 golf tournaments across the country. Such fundraisers make up only about a third of the foundation’s revenues; it relies on donations for the rest.

“There are very few tangible ways that men and women can thank Marines,” Mr. Randolph said. “By using this scholarship, many children will be able to avoid taking out a student loan.”

Mr. Randolph earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina in 1967 and a law degree from the Brooklyn Law School in 1977.

He lives in Alexandria with his wife, Patsy, and two children.

Timothy Warren