Robert M. Brownlee Makes Million-Dollar Gift to Seton Hill University

Entrepreneur Robert M. “Bob” Brownlee of Deerfield Beach, Fla. has made an extraordinary leadership commitment of $1,018,000 to Seton Hill University to create the university’s first mathematics center, The Robert M. Brownlee Mathematics Enrichment Center, as well as to establish The Robert M. Brownlee Endowed Scholarship. Robert Brownlee is the nephew of the late Sr. Francesca Brownlee, a Sister of Charity of Seton Hill who was instrumental in helping Seton Hill achieve its charter to become a college in 1918 and who served as the institution’s first Dean.

“As Seton Hill celebrates its Centennial Year in 2018, the university reflects on its rich history and acknowledges the amazing benefactors who have helped us through the years. Bob Brownlee has always been a wonderful friend to Seton Hill. Now, his incredible million-dollar plus gift brings to the forefront, in a powerful way, the Brownlee legacy at the university,” said Seton Hill President Mary C. Finger. “Indeed, the Brownlee family’s history with Seton Hill University begins with Sr. Francesca Brownlee, whose early vision brought this institution prominence among Catholic institutions in the country. Bob joins an elite group of individuals who have committed to seven-figure gifts to Seton Hill in recent years. His generosity will impact the lives of Seton Hill students for generations to come and will prepare students, as Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton promised her own students, for the ‘world in which they are destined to live.’”

Seton Hill University Provost Sister Susan Yochum, SC, Ph.D., said: “Bob Brownlee’s tremendous gift will advance Seton Hill students academically through the creation of The Robert M. Brownlee Mathematics Enrichment Center – the first Center of its kind in the university’s history. Seton Hill’s enrollment growth and the addition of new academic programs in STEM fields have driven the need to provide focused academic support in mathematics at Seton Hill. The Robert M. Brownlee Mathematics Enrichment Center will provide a centralized location for students to receive both developmental and enrichment services in math and improve their quantitative skills. The Center will offer testing for math proficiency, structured learning opportunities, supplemental instruction, faculty advising, and peer tutoring.”

Mary Finger added, “The Robert M. Brownlee Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide financial aid to students enrolled in the study of entrepreneurship, business administration, management, business ethics, cybersecurity, and data analytics. We are delighted the Brownlee Scholarship will provide capable students with the resources they need to achieve an education of the highest quality.”

“My family’s more than 100-year-long history with Seton Hill and the Sisters of Charity is a source of great pride for me, and I am honored to offer a tribute to my aunt, Sr. Francesca Brownlee, and the Brownlee family through this gift,” Robert M. Brownlee said. “Having recently attended Seton Hill’s Centennial Kickoff Celebration in January, I know that my aunt would be proud to see the marvelous growth that has taken place since she helped charter a small college for women in 1918 that has since achieved university status and is coeducational.”

Bob Brownlee continued, “My sincere hope is that this gift will provide the necessary support for academic initiatives and scholarships that will allow Seton Hill students to succeed as the university moves forward into the next 100 years of its history.”

Read more about Bob Brownlee's gift in this Pittsburgh Magazine article.

About Robert M. Brownlee

Robert M. “Bob” Brownlee is a United States Marine veteran, former police sergeant and entrepreneur whose life’s work has focused on the safety of those in his community. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Bob Brownlee served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a police officer with the Miami Police Department before turning his attention to entrepreneurship. While working an off-duty police detail at a construction site, Bob Brownlee came up with the idea for Bob’s Barricades, a safety barricade manufacturing company he started in his backyard in 1967. Known as the “Barricade Baron,” Bob Brownlee’s unique marketing style – accomplished by placing his company’s name and phone number on all the barricades he manufactured – helped launch a successful company. After selling Bob’s Barricades to James A. Ryder, former chairman of Ryder Systems, in the 1970s, Bob Brownlee founded two additional barricade companies in the ensuing decades, Bob’s Safety Lights and ABC (Another Barricade Company) Barricades. Robert Brownlee resides in Deerfield Beach, Fla. with his wife, Jackie. Bob and Jackie are the parents of five adult children and have numerous nieces and nephews.

Photo Caption: Entrepreneur and devoted Seton Hill University benefactor Robert M. “Bob” Brownlee has made a Centennial Commitment of $1,018,000 to create The Robert M. Brownlee Mathematics Enrichment Center and endow the Robert M. Brownlee Scholarship, continuing his family’s legacy at the university. Bob is pictured at the Centennial History Wall, located in Seton Hill’s Administration Building, which features his aunt, Sr. Francesca Brownlee, who was a Sister of Charity instrumental in helping Seton Hill achieve its charter to become a college in 1918.



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