Shields Puts Money Where the Science Is
october 1 , 2009

Opinion
The Enterprise

Tom Shields

Tom Shields has made a lot of money in his life. He also has given away a lot - the most recent gift being $7 million to Stonehill College in Easton as part of its $55 million capital campaign to fund scholarships, athletics and a new science center.

To recognize Shields' generosity, Stonehill has named its newest and largest building the Thomas F. and Mary J. Shields Science Center, dedicating the building last week.It is appropriate.

Shields and his wife have been an integral part of the Stonehill community for many years, raising funds and supporting scholarships. Shields also is one of the region's leading technology pioneers, opening the first independent community MRI center in Brockton 23 years ago.

Shields now operates 28 MRI centers around New England, and it is hard to recall that there were protests in the beginning about the possible "dangers" this new technology could present to a community. Now, MRIs are as standard and important as X-rays and CT scans.

Shields was the one who took the gamble in Brockton - a gamble that has paid off well. And while some people would be happy to sit home and count their millions, Shields said he believes his profits should be shared with the community, especially students.

He said 21 percent of Stonehill students are pursuing science majors and he has spent nearly two decades raising money for the college, finally putting up his own large donation, the biggest in the school's history. "You don't do these things without having a deep understanding of the people there," Shields said.

He knows that well. Two of his seven children have graduated from Stonehill, and he is a former chairman of the board of trustees. Another daughter is a trustee, and he and his wife created a scholarship program that benefits 10 students every year.

That is a lot of hard work - and money - for a good cause. Shields realizes that education is the key to success and the sciences will benefit more people than most subjects. So he was happy to give.

"We feel good about it," he said of his donation. "No buyer's remorse."

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