By Alex DeMetrick

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — When it comes to gifts, it may be the thought that counts. But when that gift is hundreds of millions of dollars, it has the power to stun.

Alex DeMetrick reports, the University of Maryland is reaping a huge windfall.

Most students at the College Park campus were unaware of what was unfolding inside the alumni house Wednesday — the announcement of a $219,486,000 gift.

“It is the largest investment in the history of this university, and it is one of the largest investments in the history of American public education,” said university president Dr. Wallace Loh.

And the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation prefers the word investment to “gift.”

“So students here in this room, this is an investment in each of you, and my family and I challenge you to make the most of it,” said Courtney Clark Pastrick.

James Clark was a 1950 Maryland graduate, who founded one of the nation’s largest private construction companies, Clark Construction.

Clark Enterprises built sports stadiums and convention centers across the country, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

And the billionaire’s success all started with a college scholarship.

According to the Associated Press, Clark hitchhiked from home because he couldn’t afford room and board.

“Few things made him happier than helping students achieve their dreams,” Clark Pastrick said.

Out of the investment, $100 million will be directed to student financial aid. Pastrick said the overall goal is to double the amount of students at the university receiving financial aid.

“This is a phenomenal amount of money they gave,” said student Thomas Greenage. “I can’t even fathom how much money that is. That is truly life-changing for so many students.”

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