By Tracy Galway
President Roderick J. McDavis and first lady Deborah McDavis are committing $50,000 to Ohio University's Urban Scholars and Appalachian Scholars programs, which the couple established to increase diversity and create higher education opportunities for high-achieving students in the state.
"When Deborah and I established these two scholarship programs, we did it with a vision toward opening the doors of opportunity for students in need from the urban centers of our state and within our own region, McDavis said. "We are very pleased with the success of these programs and the positive impact they are having on students, as well as how they have impassioned alumni and friends to provide support for these scholarships. Deborah and I believe so strongly in these programs that we want to continue a commitment to ensure success and opportunity for future Urban Scholars and Appalachian Scholars."
Started in 2005, the Urban Scholars Program provides scholarship support to 41 students from urban school districts who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need. Members of first class of Urban Scholars will graduate in June.
Similarly, the Appalachian Scholars Program, started in 2006, supports 30 students from Ohio's Appalachian counties who demonstrate enthusiasm, motivation to succeed, academic achievement and financial need.
"Rod and I have committed our professional lives to education, and we both came from families that instilled the value of a higher education," Deborah McDavis said. "It is very meaningful and fulfilling for us to witness firsthand how we can share that passion and create an opportunity for students in need who might not have a chance to attend college any other way."
Scholarship support through programs such as the Urban Scholars and Appalachian Scholars not only plays a crucial role in where a student decides to attend college, it also factors into whether a student is able to attend college at all.
Appalachian Scholar Elizabeth Wolfe, a first-generation college student, said she believes that gifts like these change students lives. "A lot of [the Appalachian Scholars] are in the same boat as me," said Wolfe, a sophomore from Scioto County. "If it wasn't for the scholarship, we wouldn't be here. It's funny to think how life would've been. … We would have just settled."
Howard R. Lipman, vice president for University Advancement and president and CEO of The Ohio University Foundation, said private philanthropy plays a vital role in the university's ability to achieve its vision of excellence.
"Our fundraising staff has made it a priority to maintain and to increase scholarships and student aid packages so we can ensure opportunities and access to education for our young people for generations to come," Lipman said.
In addition to this new commitment, the McDavises previously contributed $32,400 to Ohio University in support of numerous university-wide programs and initiatives.