Southern Campus Administrative Coordinator Pam Porter has given to OHIO for more than 30 years.
Photographer: Mike Donley
Mar 22, 2013
By Heather Anerino
On Feb. 23, Ohio University’s Southern Campus hosted more than 150 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members for a “Dean’s Gala” in honor of 10 years of nursing education on the Campus and to raise money in support of the program.
The program featured Southern Campus Dean Bill Willan, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis and Vincenzo Fressola, Southern Campus’s The Promise Lives Campaign committee chair.
Southern Campus Administrative Coordinator Pam Porter said that she was “surprised” when McDavis mentioned her staunch support of the Southern Campus and her 30 years of consecutive gifts to Ohio University.
“I didn't think about my giving as a big deal,” she said. “My co-workers have since impressed on me that 30 years of giving through payroll deduction is important.”
Porter made her first gift of $30 to OHIO on Nov. 22, 1982, and has been giving ever since. When payroll deductions became an option in the early 1990s, Porter signed up without hesitation.
“Whether by nature, nurture, or both, giving to others in the form of money, time or a concern for their wellbeing, has always been something I have found to be very rewarding, so I eagerly signed up for payroll deductions and have been giving ever since,” she said.
Willan, who has witnessed Porter’s support of the Southern Campus, was not surprised when he learned of her substantial giving history at OHIO.
“Those of us who are or have been privileged to work with her know how much she loves the Southern Campus, so her record of annual giving is not a surprise,” Willan said. “She's just as generous with her time and energy as well. We regularly see her love of Ohio University and the Southern Campus expressed in one way or another.”
When did you begin working for Ohio University? What is your role at the Southern Campus?
My career at Ohio University Southern began on Jan. 2, 1980, with what I thought would be a part-time, short-term position. Little did I know when I reported to work on that first day at a small suite of offices in the Ironton High School that it would grow into a career spanning over 30 years, and that I would be privileged to witness the development and growth of the Campus and the changes it makes every day in the lives of our students and our community.
Based on your giving history, philanthropy and altruism are clearly an important aspect of who you are. Where did that need to give back come from?
The Southern Campus is located in the same place where I was born and raised – Ironton, Ohio. As I was growing up my parents only spoke of when I went to college, not if, so I was blessed to be able to go straight from high school on to college and earn a bachelor’s degree in 1976.
I grew up during a time when, especially in our area of Appalachia, encouraging a girl to get a college education was not usually a priority. In fact, my mother said some of her friends questioned her insistence about my getting a college degree. She told them she didn’t know what my future held but she was going to give me something precious, something no one could take away from me, an education. She and my father worked hard and provided the emotional and financial support to do just that.
Why did you, personally, decide to provide financial support back to the University, and specifically, back to Southern?
When I began working at Southern it didn’t take long for me to become painfully aware of the fact that many of our students had not been afforded the same opportunity I had enjoyed. A great number of them were non-traditional students struggling to raise families with limited incomes. Even though we only had a small group of employees at that time, we decided to establish the Southern Campus Employees Scholarship Fund. That’s where my giving began.
Along the way I have given one-time gifts to special projects, events and programs for which I have had a particular interest. Giving to the Ohio University Southern Campus has been an investment that never fails to yield tremendous rewards.
When Fritz Russ, one of OHIO’s greatest donors, served on the Board of Trustees I had the privilege of meeting him and his wife, Dolores, when they held a Trustees’ meeting at our campus. What I learned from this lovely, generous couple – for whom Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology is named – is that the most important thing is not how much money you have to give, it’s your desire to give back, to be involved, to make a difference in the lives of others.
From your perspective, how does private funding help to support initiatives at Ohio University’s Southern Campus? Describe how you have witnessed the impacts of private gifts.
I have coordinated Southern’s graduate recognition ceremony for the past 32 years, and as I proudly watch the graduates walk in to take their seats, I know that some of them may not have succeeded without the benefit of a scholarship.
I’ve watched as a piece of donated property with nothing on it but weeds and an old red barn evolved into the Ohio Horse Park, and then a number of years later listened with tears in my eyes to a presentation about a small boy who had never been able to walk but was now able to take 200 steps a day because he was participating in the therapeutic riding program.
I’ve watched as many of our education majors have become excellent teachers and made a difference in the lives of children in our community. We just recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our nursing program at Southern’s Dean’s Gala, and I listened with a great deal of pride when the keynote speakers mentioned the level of academic excellence that has been achieved at this Campus. These are only a few of the wonderful things I’ve been privileged to witness during my years here, many of which would not have been possible without the generosity of others.
What would you tell other faculty/staff about supporting initiatives in their own units or giving back their time, energy or resources to Ohio University?
For me personally, when I see the positive impact we have had and continue to have on this community, I can’t imagine not wanting to give. It just seems like the right thing to do. I hope others will consider investing in education because, just like my mother, I believe when you make it possible for someone to receive a college education, you have given them something precious.
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 Promise Lives campaign.
Click here to learn about Southern Campus' campaign priorities.