Fairfield alumnus leaves $280,000 for student scholarships


Fairfield University has received a $280,000 bequest from the estate of Dr. Benjamin Ciola, a member of the class of 1953 who died in 1993, to create The Ciola Scholarship Fund. The bequest is the largest ever made to the University by an alumnus, and it will provide scholarships for Catholic students who demonstrate financial need.

Jim Reilly, director of planned giving, said of the bequest: "I recall speaking with Ben several years ago, and know that he was grateful for the opportunity to attend Fairfield. His bequest is a tremendous addition to our endowment; it will help needy students for years to come."

Dr. Ciola, a lifelong resident of Orange, Conn., received his bachelor of science degree from Fairfield, a doctorate in dental surgery from St. Louis University and a post-doctoral master's degree in dental radiology from the University of Alabama. He interned at Yale-New Haven Hospital and was a professor emeritus at Yale University.

Dr. Ciola's sister Florence Plato of Gulfport, Fla., who taught mathematics at Wesleyan and NYU as a doctoral student after receiving a master's in education from Fairfield in 1960, said he "loved" Fairfield and the campus, particularly the library. "Ben was a very quiet, introspective person. He thought Fairfield really prepared him; he got a good education," she said.

Dr. Ciola was a United States Army veteran of the Korean war, and chief of Dental Services at the West Haven Veteran Medical Center for 21 years before his retirement in 1991. In addition, he was a former professor of dental radiology at UConn and King Faud University, Saudi Arabia, where he taught post-graduate students in dental radiology, and lectured in Malaysia, South America, and Vietnam.

In the May 1992 issue of The Saudi Dental Journal, Dr. Ciola wrote an editorial, asserting that the benefit patients receive from diagnostic dental x-rays far exceeds documented risk. "In comparing other daily risks in life," he wrote, "the hazards of diagnostic dental radiographs are very small and may present the same cancer risk as ... breathing polluted air of a large city for two days."

Asked what advice Dr. Ciola might have given to current students who receive his scholarship, Florence recalled that their father died when Dr. Ciola was nine, leaving six children, and that her brother had to work his way through college. "Ben had a lot of perseverance. He probably would say 'A winner never quits and a quitter never wins.'"

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 1, 1997