Retired business executive gives back to hometown county to help high school students pursue their ambitions
ATHENS, Ohio -- Chillicothe native Larry A. Gates and his wife, Mary, are helping Ross County students realize their ambitions by establishing a major scholarship fund that will eventually total approximately $10 million. The Gates Foundation – Ross County Scholar's Fund will pave the way to a college education for countless students who wouldn't otherwise have that opportunity by endowing scholarships for students graduating from Ross County high schools.
The first scholarships, totaling $30,000, will be awarded in the spring of 2004 for students beginning their college careers in the fall.
The donor advised fund will be administered by The Ohio University Foundation, the private fund-raising arm of the university.
"There are few things that impact our lives more than a solid foundation of education and scholastic achievement," Mr. Gates said during a ceremony to announce the gift today (Dec. 11) at Ohio University Chillicothe Campus. "As we mature in our lives and careers, this understanding may result in a realization of our obligations to provide educational opportunities for future Ross County graduates. Call it pay back time, or as Woody Hayes liked to characterize it, 'paying forward.' "
Ohio University President Robert Glidden said, "This scholarship fund will unlock the doors to a college education for many deserving students. A college education has a lifelong impact on a person, and the Gates gift will have long-lasting benefits on further improving the quality of life for Ross County residents."
"In these difficult economic times that make a college education both more difficult to afford and more valuable to attain, this gift has added significance," Glidden said.
Preference will be given to students who have shown the ability and ambition to succeed in college but lack the money provided by scholarships and/or financial aid to afford a college education. Criteria include economic need and the ability to complete college work. Applicants will provide at least two letters of reference from high school guidance counselors and/or teachers. The duration of the undergraduate scholarships will be up to four years.
"For a community to continue to provide good jobs to its young people, there must be a workforce that's educated. What the Gateses have done is help to ensure for years to come that we have a healthy dose of one of the main ingredients in economic development," Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marvin Jones said.
"Donor advised funds offer the opportunity for donors to play an active role while having their investments professionally managed and to direct the dividends to support projects that are important to them," Ohio University Foundation Executive Director Leonard Raley said.
Directors of the fund will be Larry A. Gates, his daughters, Nicole McLaughlin and Michelle Bertagnoli, Ross County residents Matthew Haller and Kimberly Hirsch, Ohio University Office of Student Financial Aid Associate Director of Scholarships and Client Services Valerie Miller and Ohio University-Chillicothe interim Associate Dean Mike Lafreniere.
Mr. Gates retired as senior vice president for human resources and administration with Philip Morris Companies in 1998. In that position, he was responsible for worldwide human resources for a multinational corporation employing 160,000 individuals in 180 major markets around the world. He graduated from Chillicothe High School in 1956, Northeastern State (Okla.) University in 1964 and joined Philip Morris in 1967.
Eligible students will be graduates of Chillicothe City, Adena Local, Zane Trace Local, Huntington Local, Paint Valley Local, Union-Scioto Local and Southeastern school districts.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, earning potential increases 75 percent for those with a bachelor's degree over those with just a high school diploma. While 83 percent of Ohioans hold a high school diploma and 21 percent have a bachelor's degree, just 44 percent of Ross County residents have high school diplomas and 8 percent hold bachelor's degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.
"We are reminded that the average income over a 40-year career is $1.2 million more for a person with a degree versus a person without a degree," Mr. Gates said. "This is a significant price for our children and grandchildren to pay, perhaps because of a failure to instill the need or provide the means for them to pursue a college education."
Approximately 5,000 students are enrolled in Ross County's public schools.
"This gift supports Ohio University's commitment to regional service by providing area students with increased access to higher education," Glidden said.
Of the 2,000 students studying at Ohio University-Chillicothe, 1,170 are Ross County residents, and another 280 students from the county are enrolled at the Athens campus.
The gift is part of Ohio University's Bicentennial Campaign, which has raised $187.1 million in gift commitments toward its goal of $200 million. The campaign, which continues through June 2004, will provide money for scholarships, named professorships and endowed chairs, technological enhancements, innovative programs and selected capital improvements.
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Note to Media: Photos from today's event areavailable online at: