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‘Big Jimmy’ Scholarship Created

By Diana Jue

Since the death of James “Big Jimmy” E. Roberts, East Campus and Senior House security guard, last January, students and family have worked together to establish a memorial fund in his name.

The first scholarship from the James (“Big Jimmy”) E. Roberts Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund will hopefully be distributed late October or early November this year, said Alumni Fund Officer Jennifer Wilinsky. The amount of the scholarship has not yet been determined. “Big Jimmy” scholarships will be administered through the MIT Financial Services Office, which will select the recipient from a pool of qualified undergraduate students based on financial need.

This annual scholarship, which is commonly known as the “Jimmy Fund” by its founders, will be given preferentially to East Campus and Senior House residents, provided that there is a financially eligible candidate from one of the two dorms, said Mary K. Thompson G, who is working on the Jimmy Fund effort. The recipient is encouraged to get in touch with Roberts’s family.

Many helped by “Big Jimmy”

Big Jimmy was a popular and beloved security guard who patrolled the East Campus and Senior House residence halls. East Campus president Harvey C. Jones ’06 described him as a fixture at the dormitory who took interest in the students. “He was someone who really cared and made an effort to stop and talk to people who were having a down time,” Jones said.

“Big Jimmy spent 20 years talking to students, bringing them dinner and late night snacks, helping them through difficult times, standing up for them when he could, and making them laugh,” Thompson said. “He looked out for everyone.”

East Campus and Senior House residents wanted to find a way to pay tribute to him following his death in January, so the decision was made to set up a scholarship fund.

“The fund is one of the best memorials,” said Thompson. “It is a way for us to honor his memory, to thank him for everything that he has done for the students, and to allow him to continue helping the community that he loved so much.”

The residence-based restriction was placed on the scholarship because the students who helped create it “felt that it was appropriate for [Big Jimmy’s] memorial to benefit the students he thought of as ‘his kids’ now that he is no longer here to watch over them himself,” she said.

Over 100 contribute to fund

So far, the Jimmy Fund officially has $19,915 of the $50,000 that is necessary to consider the scholarship fully sustainable, meaning the scholarship would be paid by annual interest off of this principal amount, Thompson said.

Most of the money came from 125 individual donors to date, which include parents, students, alumni, and staff from the Dorm Patrol and the Service Employees Intern Unit, Wilinsky said.

Students also initiated fundraisers to raise money for the fund. Jones and Christopher M. Vogt ’06, hosted multiple “Hot Dogs for Jimmy” events in the East Campus courtyard over the summer that raised $300 for the fund. Other events, including a sushi night, contributed $300, bringing the total unofficial amount of money in the fund to $20,515. Individual donations have ranged from $5 to $1,000.

Contributions and gifts of any amount can be directed to the Jimmy Fund via

Big Jimmy would have wanted to give some of the scholarship to as many people as possible, and in order to do that, “we need as large a principal as we can get for the fund,” Thompson said.