Transformational Gifts and Givers
We are humbled by every gift we receive from our alumni and friends, whether it be $10, $100 or $100,000. But we want to recognize some of our most transformational gifts and givers. Number listed are lifetime giving totals.
Vernon R. Alden: $7.2 Million
LITTD ’69, President Emeritus
Ohio University President Emeritus Vernon Alden remembers with fondness the seven years he and his wife, Marion Parson Alden, spent at Ohio University. His desire to honor her contributions — and to see that the Libraries bearing his name retains its role as an educational and technological leader — prompted a number of transformational gifts over the years.
“The years that my wife, Marion, and I spent at Ohio University were the most satisfying years of our lives, primarily because we were working together to enhance the quality and reputation of an already fine university,” said Alden, who served from 1962 to 1969 as the University’s 15th president. Marion Alden died in 1999.
Thanks to the leadership of Vernon and Marion Alden, Alden Library opened in February 1969 with some 500,000 volumes. Today it boasts more than 3 million volumes and more than 2 million annual visits.
Larry A. and Mary A. Gates: $10 Million
Larry A. Gates and his wife, Mary, took bold steps to illustrate their belief both in the youth of Ross County, Ohio, and the value of higher education. The couple committed $10 million to create The Gates Foundation – Ross County Scholar’s Fund, which provides scholarship support for students from the Ross County high schools who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a college education.
"A college degree is no guarantee for success,” Gates said. “But without it, you don't stand a chance. It's what allows you to put your foot in the door with everybody else's feet."
Gates scholarships are available to graduates of Ross County high schools who demonstrate the ability and ambition to succeed but lack the money to afford a college education.
"There is a need here," Gates said. "People don't seek higher education at the rate they do elsewhere in Ohio or around the country. Someday this fund will generate $2 million a year in scholarships. That's my dream, and it will happen."
Leona H. Hughes: $3.5 Million
BSEd ’30, DH ’01
Leona Hughes was a donor not only of resources but also of time and ideas. She worked for Ohio University for 11 years, served for 15 years on the Ohio University Alumni Association Board and was a member of The Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees for nine years. She also served on the Manasseh Cutler Scholars Board of Governors before she passed away in 2008 at 99.
In support of Ohio University, Hughes established four Leona and Lewis Hughes Manasseh Cutler Scholarships and four tuition scholarships for students from her hometown of Oak Hill, Ohio. She also has provided financial support to many other areas of the University, including: the College of Arts and Sciences; Konneker Alumni Center; Ping Institute for the Teaching of the Humanities; Greek Life; and Alden Library.
“Leona Hughes was the first recipient of the Women in Philanthropy of Ohio University (WIP) Leona Hughes Inspiration Award on Nov. 2, 2006,” said Dorothy Schey, former Director of Development for Special Fund Raising Initiatives. “WIP established the award in honor of Leona who set an example of personal integrity throughout her inspirational life. She was a hardworking, energetic leader who encouraged students and others while maintaining a philanthropic interest in Ohio University and her community. She was a professional volunteer, a steadfast benefactor, and a pioneering example of transformational giving.”
Edwin L. and Ruth E. Kennedy: $10.5 Million
AB ’26, LLD ’65 and BSEd ’30 respectively
The Kennedy Museum is named in honor of Edwin and Ruth Kennedy, lifetime supporters of Ohio University. Thanks to the generosity of the Kennedys, the Museum has grown into a world-class institution, bringing to the University and the region a wide range of permanent collections and traveling exhibitions, educational programming and special tours.
A native of Marion, Ohio, Edwin was educated at Ohio University, Ohio State University, and Harvard Business School. He served on the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees from 1959 through 1975. In 1930, he began collecting artwork, which developed into a world-renowned collection.
Ruth was a 1930 graduate of Ohio University. Together, she and Edwin endowed three major programs at OHIO: the Kennedy Lecture Series; the Distinguished Professor Award; and the Baker Research Award. They also donated the Southwest Native American Collection to the Kennedy Museum, a comprehensive and unique collection of Navajo textiles, weavings and jewelry.
Wilfred R. and Ann Lee Konneker: $23.7 Million
BS ’43, MS ’47, LLD ’80 and HON ’80 respectively
The Konnekers have been two of Ohio University’s most dedicated supporters. Will was a member of the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees, having served as chairman from 1982-87. He served as that board's only Lifetime Trustee until his passing in 2016.
In 1981, the couple donated the former Grosvenor House on University Terrace to the University to convert into the Konneker Alumni Center, along with an endowment for the Center’s maintenance. But their generosity goes far beyond the walls of the Center.
As principal architects of the Manasseh Cutler Scholars Program, the Konnekers believes in the power of education and the promise of Ohio University. The couple endowed 19 undergraduate scholarships in the Cutler Scholars Program for students from their former schools, Greenfield-McClain High School, Chillicothe High School and Olean High School in New York, among others.
Their philanthropic endeavors also have benefited: Intercollegiate Athletics; the College of Fine Arts; Alden Library; the Patton College of Education; and the Center for International Studies.
Frank P. and Margaret M. Krasovec: $20 Million
BA ’65, MBA ’66 (Frank)
In 2001, Frank and Margaret Krasovec made history with their $20 million gift, the largest single gift ever pledged to the University at the time. Frank, a Texas businessman and two-time alumnus of OHIO’s College of Business, designated the gift primarily to his former College to improve programs and support students and faculty.
Frank, who served as Chairman of Norwood Investments, is a member and former chair of the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees. His wife Margaret has been a guest lecturer for the College of Business and, currently, is the sole proprietor for active wear sales at Mecca Gym and Spa in Austin, Texas, where the two reside.
“What (the University) did was give me a chance to rebuild my engine, to restart my brain,” said Frank Krasovec. “As a student, I received several small scholarships that helped me get through school, so I want to provide the same opportunity for other students.”
The Osteopathic Heritage Foundations: $119.2 Million
In 2011, the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations awarded $105 million to Ohio University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, representing the largest private donation ever given to a college or university in Ohio. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the award is the fourth largest gift ever given to a U.S. medical school and ranks among the top 50 gifts ever given to a higher education institution in the U.S.
In honor of the gift, OHIO renamed its college the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. The Heritage College will use the gift to initiate a number of new programs including a regional extension campus in Central Ohio as well as diabetes and neuromuscular-skeletal centers in Athens. The Foundations also made large donations to help fund the opening of OHIO’s Academic Research Center and the Heritage Clinical Training and Assessment Center & Community Clinic.
“This is going to transform the College of Osteopathic Medicine for perpetuity,” President Roderick McDavis said during the gift announcement. “It will lift the college to a level of being one of the very best medical schools in the United States, (and it will) lift the hopes of the entire university to be far greater than we are today.”
Violet L. Patton: $64 Million
BSEd ’38, HON ’11
On January 11, 2010, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis announced a private gift of $13.3 million from 1938 alumna Dr. Violet L. Patton to benefit arts education at OHIO and provide for the establishment of The Violet L. Patton Center for Arts Education.
"May the Violet L. Patton Arts Center bring renown to all who enter," Violet said in a statement. "And, may it be like the old man crossing a wide chasm over a river, building a bridge as he goes. When asked why build a bridge at this time of his life he replies, 'I build this bridge for those who follow and may not be as strong.'"
Just three weeks later, President McDavis announced a second transformational gift that would forever change the face – and name – of the College of Education. On February 4, Dr. McDavis announced that Dr. Patton had donated $28 million to the College of Education in honor of her parents, Gladys W. and David H. Patton, making her one of OHIO’s greatest benefactors.
It was the largest gift to any college of education in Ohio, and the second largest single gift to any college of education in the nation. In honor of Dr. Patton’s parents, the College became known as The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education, only the third named college of education in Ohio.
Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ: $132 Million
BSEE ’42, DENG ’75 and HON ’99 respectively
Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ made their first gift to Ohio University -- $25 -- in 1962. Since then, they have become OHIO’s top donors, amassing a lifetime giving total of more than $132 million.
Their estate bequest in 2008, valued at $124 million, was the largest to any public engineering college in the U.S., and the largest to any public institution of higher education in the state of Ohio. Endowments established through the Russes’ gifts provide approximately $4 million in funds for the Russ College each year.
An earlier significant gift from the Russes in 1999 established the National Academy of Engineering’s Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize. Comparable to the Nobel Prize, it is the top bioengineering prize in the world, awarding recipients $500,000. The prize has been awarded to the bioengineers including those responsible for inventing the implantable heart pacemaker, kidney dialysis, and automated DNA sequencing that helped enable the Human Genome Project.
"Fritz and Dolores Russ imagined a college that is visionary in its planning and purposeful in implementing the best student-centered engineering education experience in the country," said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis. "Theirs is a transformational legacy that has forever changed the face and the heart of the Russ College while lifting up the engineering and technology professions and their profound effect on the human condition."
Steven L. Schoonover: $8.4 Million
Ohio University alumnus Steven L. Schoonover lead efforts to consolidate Scripps College of Communication programs, components of which were housed in nine buildings across the Athens campus.
In 2008, Steve made a $7.5 million gift to Scripps College for a new building, The Schoonover Center for Communication. The building now houses the college’s five schools and the WOUB Center for Public Media in one facility that combines the former Baker Center and the Radio-Television building. The new facility brings faculty and students together into one integrated space, where students can learn in an environment that encourages creativity, team work and thinking outside the limits of traditional disciplines.
The new Schoonover Center for Communication is OHIO’s largest LEED-certification project, furthering OHIO’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability.
The Scripps Howard Foundation: $20 Million
Since funding its first scholarship at Ohio University in 1966, the Scripps Howard Foundation has been a partner in Ohio University's mission to create a dynamic learning environment for future generations of communicators.
In 2006, the Scripps Howard Foundation gave a transformational gift to name the Scripps College of Communication. The gift established endowments for Scripps Visiting Professionals, fellowships, internships, scholarships and high school programs at the College. With the Foundation's support, the College is creating a growing curriculum of educational programs and innovations, technological improvements and multicultural initiatives.
“With this important gift, it's our intention to provide the university's College of Communication with the resources it needs to build on its excellent reputation as a leading academic destination,” said Kenneth W. Lowe, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company. “Together, Scripps and the university are investing in the future of our industry by providing quality higher education for tomorrow's media and communication professionals.”
In October 2010, the Scripps College of Communication was named a Center of Excellence in Culture and Societal Transformation for the state of Ohio and is the only college of communication to receive such a designation.
C. Paul and Beth K. Stocker: $31.5 Million
BSEE ’26, ENGD ’74 and BS ’28, HON ’03 respectively
The legacy of C. Paul and Beth K. Stocker took root at Ohio University in 1962 with a gift of $500. Since that time, the couple established themselves as two of OHIO’s greatest benefactors, contributing more than $31 million to OHIO’s students, faculty, and programs. In addition to establishing scholarship funds for arts and sciences, and engineering and technology, the Stockers also established the Russ College’s first visiting chair and professorship.
In 1979, Beth established The Stocker Foundation from the estate of her husband. From that estate, The Stocker Foundation gifted $8 million to the Russ College -- the largest gift to Ohio University and any college of engineering at the time. Shortly after, a corporate takeover prompted a surge in stock that had been included in the gift, increasing the overall value of the bequest to more than $13 million.
This additional income provided for an endowed chair in electrical engineering, equipment purchases, and research. Within the first year, the College was able to purchase more equipment than it had in the previous decade. The funds also endowed the Stocker unrestricted fund, which support OHIO’s 1804 Fund, and enabled the College to increase funded research more than twentyfold.
The 1804 Fund, which was designed to foster innovation and collaboration across disciplines, supports the University's core mission of "maintaining, strengthening, and enhancing a learning-centered community." Last year, the 1804 Fund celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, bringing the grand total of awards to approximately $15 million. Since awarding its first grants in 1980, the fund has supported more than 600 projects and programs across campus.
In 1983, ground was broken on the largest project in Ohio University’s history: the renovation of Crook Hall into a five-story complex joining all engineering and technology departments. The $11.7 million C. Paul and Beth K. Stocker Engineering Center was named in their honor. Before passing away in 2005, Beth established four Manasseh Cutler Scholarships and, most recently, she supported the funding of an Urban Scholar.
In 1978, Beth was named alumna of the year and in 1995, she received the John C. Baker Founders Award. Ohio University awarded the Stockers the Founder’s Citation, Ohio University’s highest honor, in 2003.
Charles R. and Marilyn Stuckey Jr.: $8.5 Million
BSME ’66, HON ’05 (Charles)
In 2000, alumnus and Foundation Trustee Chuck Stuckey and his wife, Marilyn, contributed $250,000 to the Russ College to establish the Charles R. and Marilyn Stuckey Jr. Professorship. Just four years later, the couple made a $5 million gift that pushed the Russ College beyond its Bicentennial Campaign goal and helped shape the future of the College.
The leadership gift enabled planning to begin on a new facility that provides a learning community for students and faculty in the Russ College. Shared with the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and named in their honor, the Charles R. and Marilyn Stuckey and Heritage Foundation Academic and Research Center is modeled after a contemporary working environment, offering an open design that fosters collaboration and teamwork among students, faculty and staff. In 2008, construction began on the 100,000 square foot building.
“We felt making a contribution to help facilitate the construction of this building would have a major impact for the University and perhaps even have an impact nationwide," said Chuck Stuckey. "I've felt for some time that the United States in general is losing a lot of its technological edge to other countries. We're seeing fewer high school students focusing on science and math, and a decline in the number of students coming into the engineering and science disciplines. We considered how we could have an impact on that trend. We wanted to do something that would help facilitate an advanced way of educating and recruiting students. Building an attractive, high-tech facility and encouraging new teaching methods could make a major change, putting the University in a much stronger position to compete nationally."
The Stuckey's most recent gift – $2 million toward The Promise Lives Campaign – is supporting four scholarships, including one for the Lancaster Campus, where Charles Stuckey got his start.
Robert D. and Margaret M. Walter: $17.8 Million
BSME ’67, HON ’97 and BFA ’67 respectively
Named in their honor, Margaret M. Walter Hall was completed in December, 2003, and dedicated on April 16, 2004. It was built on the former site of Trautwein Field, adjacent to Bicentennial Park. The building was made possible by a $5 million gift from Robert D. Walter, former chairman of the Ohio University Board of Trustees and CEO of Cardinal Health Inc., and his wife, Margaret "Peggy" McGreevy Walter.
In 2008, the Walter Family Foundation gave Ohio University $2 million for the purchase and renovation of 15 Park Place, which now houses the Walter International Education Center. Cardinal Health also made a $2 million gift to Ohio University in 2008 in honor of Robert Walter’s retirement. Mr. Walter advised that the gift would be used to create the Walter Center for Strategic Leadership, which was formally dedicated the same year in OHIO’s College of Business.
In 2010, the Walters and their Foundation gifted $10 million to support the construction of a the Walter Fieldhouse and renovations to the Convocation Center. The multipurpose fieldhouse is being used for activities including student life, academics, intramurals, intercollegiate athletic practices, and rehearsals for The Marching 110.
“It is gratifying to support our alma mater in this way,” said Robert Walter. “We understand the important role that donor support plays in fulfilling the University’s mission and achieving its vision.”