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October 15, 2003
Program honors co-founder of Ohio University
By Ciare Thorn

To educate capable and committed students to be world leaders of tomorrow.

This is the mission of the Ohio University Cutler Scholars program. Kimberly Guffey - an Ohio University junior majoring in public relations - is one recipient of the G. Kenner and Margene Bush Manasseh Cutler Scholarship. She sings its praises because, she says, "it changes one's life in such a positive way."

Named in honor of Ohio University co-founder Manasseh Cutler, whose guiding principal was that "education shall forever be encouraged," the Cutler Scholars Program began with the vision of Dr. Wilfred R. Konneker, BS '43, MS '47, LLD '80, and former vice president for development at Ohio University, Jack G. Ellis, BSCOM '57.

Their vision became reality in 1996 when the first six outstanding students started their Ohio University education as Cutler Scholars. Today the University has more than 35 Cutler Scholars.

Kimberley Guffey The Cutler Scholars Program provides students a unique opportunity "to grow in areas that they never would have thought possible before without the burden of financial concerns," says Ellis - currently associate director of the Cutler Scholars Program. Each scholar is awarded full tuition as well as room and board and travel stipends.

Granted based on an extensive set of criteria including academic standing, leadership potential, physical vigor, personal integrity and extracurricular achievements, the Cutler Scholarship is modeled after the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford and the Morehead Scholarship at the University of North Carolina.

Guffey, a graduate of Trimble High School, says the Cutler Scholar selection process was a rigorous one and "involvement gave me the edge." Potential scholars cannot apply for the Cutler Scholars Program; instead, they are nominated by eligible high schools, Ohio University colleges or by members of active Ohio University alumni chapters.

Once nominated, students then embark upon an in-depth screening comprising a variety of essays, examination of class standing and an interview with the Cutler Scholars Selection Committee. Nominated students are evaluated so intensely because the Cutler Scholars Program - by design - is meant to be a highly engaging experience.

The Cutler Scholars Program fosters an environment of community and cooperative learning. "There is an excellent mentoring component," Guffey says, "and I have formed good relationships with others in my major." Scholars meet weekly to fulfill the program's colloquia requirement. Students, in conjunction with faculty and staff, select a pressing social or institutional issue to discuss during the quarter.

Scholars explore, research and hear from guest speakers in order to more fully understand pressing world issues. According to Ellis, "several (students) mention in evaluations that the colloquium topics allowed them to delve into matters that they never would have touched on in their academic programs."

Guffey says that she "would never have thought to sit down and read about the Human Genome Project." She realizes that this aspect of the program has made her "more socially aware and caused me to think about issues from the other side and able to relate to others despite their differences."

Whereas many scholarships are awarded and maintained according to the upkeep of grade point average, the Cutler Scholars are demanded to excel both inside and outside of the classroom. The program consists of four enrichment components that begin during the summer following the recipient's high school graduation.

Guffey completed the first of these, an Outward Bound experience challenging one's physical stamina - hiking in the wilderness of Minnesota. After 10 days filled with rock climbing and high ropes courses, she said to herself, "if I can do that, I can do anything."

Along those lines, Cutler Scholars are encouraged to believe that with hard work and education they can do anything. Students in the program are expected to challenge the norms and to develop unique strategies to utilize as they embark upon their lives as leaders of an ever-evolving world. "Our goal is to identify young men and women who exhibit leadership potential and bring them together as a group to nurture that potential citizenry," Ellis says.

The second summer enrichment experience is community or public service related. Guffey, having a love for California, fulfilled this requirement in San Francisco working with the California Academy of Sciences. During her stay, she also volunteered with the AIDS Walk and the Ansel Adams Friends and Photography Center.

The following summer once again drew Guffey to the sunshine. She completed her third enrichment component, a private sector internship, in the public relations department of Taco Bell/Tricom in Irvine, Calif. A study abroad experience in a locale that complements a student's area of study or that is of particular interest to the student is the fourth and final enrichment opportunity. This year Guffey boarded a plane to Wales where she will spend fall quarter studying political science and learning about the General Assembly.

Being a Cutler Scholar demands that one spend a large portion of time away from the familiar. The close-knit structure of the program allows for speedy adjustment according to Guffey. "This program allows me to go away and have independence," she says, although there is a down side at times because "everyone has babies while I'm gone." Her siblings have borne two children while she has been away and one more will arrive during her stay in Wales.

To fund a United States scholar, donors contribute at least $250,000 to establish an endowment that will support the award in perpetuity. For international scholars, a minimum of $300,000 is required.

Each endowed award bears the name of the benefactor or another of his or her choosing. Benefactors may designate that recipients of their award: Be from a particular geographic region or location, enroll in a particular college within Ohio University or come from a group with an identifiable common trait.

Ellis, who has witnessed the evolution of the program since its implementation, says, "investing in Cutler Scholars is investing in leaders of tomorrow as well as investing in the quality of Ohio University."

During Ohio University's $200 million Bicentennial Campaign, more than $10 million has been raised to support the Cutler Scholars Program. The campaign - which to date has raised more than $175 million - is providing money for scholarships, endowed professorships, technological enhancements, innovative programs, and select capital improvements.

Ciare Thorn is a development communication assistant for the Division of University Advancement

 

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