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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

Mostly Cloudy, 70 °F

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Greg Lester

University College Assistant Dean for Advising and Student Services Greg Lester

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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Lester and other donors are reviving the Ohio Fellows Program originally established in 1964.

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OHIO alumnus and administrator gives time, talent and treasure to revive 1960s-era scholars program

Greg Lester will direct the new Ohio Fellows Program, gives to unique program


Greg Lester has given his time and talents to students since he came to Ohio University 10 years ago. As the assistant dean for Advising and Student Services in University College, he supports a range of students, some who are struggling and in need of direction, and some who have realized their potential and are engaged in Ohio University in myriad ways.

Lester provided assistance, direction and motivation for first-generation, low-income and disabled undergraduate students for eight years at University College’s Academic Advancement Center by leading the College Adjustment Program (CAP). Since beginning his new role as Assistant Dean at University College in the summer of 2011, Lester continues to use his mentoring and leadership skills to help guide University College students through their undergraduate years. But now he will also lead the effort to bring back a unique scholars program called the Ohio Fellows Program (OFP), which began in 1964 under OHIO President Vernon Alden.

“The Ohio Fellows Program is a nontraditional scholars program, which means it gives its students who have a strong academic background but are not necessarily recipients of one of Ohio University’s marquee scholarships one-of-a-kind opportunities to interact and engage with scholars, visiting lecturers, faculty and Ohio Fellow alumni—many of whom are scattered across the globe doing amazing things,” Lester said.

Given Lester’s legacy at OHIO, he is well-suited to lead this program because for him, it’s always been about helping students.

“I’m always thinking about helping students. There are scholarships (to support) of course, but our gift to the Ohio Fellows Program is another way of giving that helps students achieve their goals and push through their perceived boundaries,” Lester said.

By giving to the Ohio Fellows Program, Lester—who in 2011 earned a doctorate in higher education administration from the Patton College of Education—his wife Kjersten Lester-Moratzka, associate professor of production design and technology in the School of Theater, and her parents, Jim and Lynne Moratzka of Forest Lake, Minnesota, join several Ohio Fellows to revive the program for OHIO’s 21st century campus. These gifts support Ohio University’s current capital campaign, The Promise Lives, a $450 million campaign to support scholarships, faculty, the student experience, facilities, and community outreach. So far the Campaign, which ends in June, 2015, has raised more than $413 million.

“Beyond being inspired by the gift my in-laws gave to the program, the Fellows was a natural place to direct our gift because I have confidence in it and an excitement toward working with the next generation of Ohio Fellows,” Lester said.

Student enrollment for the Ohio Fellows Program is underway, and Lester said he looks forward to witnessing the transformation in students the program is designed to create.  

“The beauty of the original Ohio Fellows program is that it created nontraditional thinkers, men and women who, throughout their careers, were ready to serve when they were called to do so. They had gained a bigger world view as Fellows and were encouraged to think critically about their contributions to society,” Lester said. “Supreme Court jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, ‘A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.’ I think that sentiment sums up what being an Ohio Fellow is all about.”

The Promise Lives
Ohio University's current capital campaign, The Promise Lives Campaign, has raised more than $413 million toward its goal of $450 million by June 2015 in support of students, faculty, programs, facilities and community partnerships.

Click here to learn more about the campaign.