Photo courtesy of: Stuart Blersch
Mar 15, 2013
By MaryKate McHugh
Two gifts by an alumnus in honor of three professors in the Department of English will support graduate students as they write their theses and dissertations and also help fund a lecture series hosted by the department.
Through a $500,000 bequest, Ohio University alumnus Stuart Blersch created the Roma King & Neville Rogers scholarship. The scholarship will allow graduate students to take a break from their teaching duties so they can focus on writing their theses and dissertations. Blersch’s bequest will also benefit the John W. Hollow Memorial Fund, which supports the annual Hollow Lecture hosted by the Department of English.
Blersch received his bachelor’s degree in 1967, his master’s degree in English in 1968 and his doctoral degree in 1975, all from Ohio University. Blersch came to OHIO to study journalism but switched his major to English and enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences to be eligible for the Honors College. During the 1967 academic year, Blersch was a teaching assistant and realized his true passion was to be an educator.
Blersch met Dr. Neville Rogers while studying 19th century poetry in the Honors College and met Dr. Roma King while taking a year-long graduate seminar on 19th century literature.
“I have a real sense of gratitude for Dr. King and Dr. Rogers. They were true inspirations. They were great teachers, and they took a lot of time to help me succeed in graduate school,” Blersch said.
During Blersch’s senior year at OHIO, the university began offering early admission into their graduate programs. Thanks to King’s encouragement, Blersch began to take classes that counted towards both his undergraduate and master’s degrees.
“Dr. King was pivotal to my education between my undergraduate and graduate degrees,” said Blersch. “He inspired my life-long interest in the 19th century.”
Blersch went on to teach full time for 31 years at the University of Cincinnati as a Professor of English. He received a full time teaching award and retired in 2007.
The Roma King & Neville Rogers Scholarship honors these OHIO professors and recognizes the importance of teaching, Blersch said.
"I thought that if my PhD leads to a college teaching position, I want a find a way to thank these professors,” said Blersch. ”When I spoke with the current English Department Chair Marsha Dutton, she said that a graduate student scholarship would be the best way to honor them.”
While working on his doctoral degree at OHIO, Blersch developed an interest in the 19th century poet, William Morris. This prompted Professor of English John W. Hollow to become involved with Blersch’s studies and to advise him on his dissertation.
Hollow also chaired a session at the Modern Language Association where Blersch presented his work. Hollow also helped him publish his first article.
“He opened doors for me. He introduced me to other Morris scholars. It is through these connections that I recently helped edit part of the new Morris Online Edition.”
Blersch credits all three of these former professors for his professional success.
“Graduate school at Ohio University was one of the most significant experiences in my life,” says Blersch. “Professors Hollow, King, and Rogers helped make those years so significant. Now I’m saying thank you.”
Blersch’s gift is part of OHIO’s The Promise Lives Campaign, which will raise $450 million by June, 2015 to support students, faculty, research and creative activity, community outreach and select facilities. To date, the Campaign has raised $419 million in support of these priorities. To make a gift to the Campaign using your credit or debit card, please visit .www.ohio.edu/give