$1 Million Gift Will Boost SMC's Online Programs

Big donation comes from Santa Monica residents Conrad Lee Klein and Joan Dempsey Klein. "We believe that through technology you can reach students of all economic levels," the couple says.

A local couple has donated $1.025 million to Santa Monica College to support and expand the campus' online course offerings, officials announced Tuesday.

The gift from Santa Monica residents Conrad Lee Klein and Joan Dempsey Klein is the largest ever given to the college's foundation in support of technology.

"This gift will allow SMC to use widely available technology to broaden the scope of its offerings and serve many more students throughout the community and the state," the foundation's Executive Director Vanessa Butler said in a statement.

The Kleins donated $1 million to maintain and support the college's online education program. Another $25,000 was donated for other general college needs.

The Los Angeles Times reported the donation comes Gov. Jerry Brown urges as California's public colleges and universities to ramp up their online programs to serve more students and increase efficiency.

Conrad Lee Klein, who was an attorney for the late Herbalife founder
Mark Hughes and serves as trustee of the Mark Hughes Family Trust, and his wife Joan Dempsey Klein, a state appeals court judge, said they credited higher education for helping them overcome poor upbringings.

"Joan and I both understand the problems of poverty," Conrad Klein
said. "We were fortunate enough to overcome them. We want to try to help others so they too can find their way up the ladder to success. We believe that through technology you can reach students of all economic levels."

Conrad Klein will become a member of the college's advisory committee for the Academy on Entertainment and Technology, which will provide input on the upcoming expansion of the AET campus and incorporation of new academic disciplines.

Last month, Santa Monica College announced it had received more than $805,000 from the estate of a Pacific Palisades woman to fund 40 annual student scholarships.

The Klein's also gifted $2 million to UCLA School of Law for Scholarships.

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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