University presidents give back through donations

Kelly Tunney

University presidents are considered the leaders of their schools. Along with making important decisions that affect students and faculty, they spend countless hours on activities and events to raise funds for their respective universities.

Many presidents decide to join in on the fundraising for their universities by donating money and funding scholarship programs for students.

Roderick McDavis, president of Ohio University, said he donates to his university, which is also his alma mater, in order to lead by example.

“If I am asking other people to contribute to different causes within the university,” he said, “then I think I ought to be an example by contributing those funds myself.”

McDavis started an Urban Scholars Program at Ohio University in 2005 that gives scholarships to students from Urban Centers in Ohio.

“I believe that one of the things that we can do to increase the diversity on campus (is) to start an urban scholars program,” he said. “Which would attract the attention of students from our urban centers all over Ohio.”

According to donation records, since he created the Urban Scholars Program, McDavis has contributed $35,000 to the fund. He has also donated $25,000 to an Appalachian Scholars Program he created in 2006, a program which gives scholarships to students from Appalachian counties.

McDavis said giving to scholarships specifically enables students to get an education, which is the purpose of a university.

“The chief reason for the existence of our university is to provide an opportunity for our students to get an education,” he said. “If our giving to scholarships has helped students to be able to get their education, then it has been a worthwhile endeavor for us to contribute to the university so more students can benefit from the education that we provide.”

Other presidents of universities in Ohio have also given back to students at their schools by funding scholarships.

President Gordon Gee of The Ohio State University began a scholarship fund for students in 2009. Since its inception, the roughly $9,000 scholarship has been awarded to three students. The fund will eventually reach a $1 million endowment.

Kent State president Lester Lefton has also contributed money toward Kent State. He has given a total of $19,200 to the University Fund in his first five years of presidency.

In an email, Lefton made a statement regarding his donations to the university.

“My wife and I have many philanthropic interests related to the university and beyond, which we prefer to keep private,” he said.

Gregory H. Williams, president of University of Cincinnati, also made a statement in an email as to why he donates to the university.

“I believe it is important to give back to higher education because it has given so much to me, starting with my own education and now a long and fulfilling career.”

McDavis said when presidents donate to their universities, it shows that they support the schools they lead.

“I think if we believe in what’s happening in the university from the standpoint of providing students with support, giving to the arts, giving to intercollegiate athletics,” McDavis said, “then we are showing that we absolutely believe in what we are leading.”

Contact Kelly Tunney at [email protected].