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$1M bequest creates engineering scholarship for military vets

Pete Shooner | Oct 17, 2016
Wilkes gift

$1M bequest creates engineering scholarship for military vets

Pete Shooner | Oct 17, 2016

An Ohio University alumnus established a permanent scholarship for military veterans studying electrical engineering at OHIO with his $1 million estate gift to the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

The late Robert Wilkes, BSEE ’61, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, passed away in July 2012 after a long career that included time as a senior field engineer for General Electric, supporting military operations during the Vietnam War on Air Force bases in Georgia and Japan. He left $1,017,850 to the Russ College in his will.

“When I met Mr. Wilkes, it was clear there were two things that he considered to be instrumental in his success as an engineer and a citizen: his service in the military, and his education and the faculty who influenced him at Ohio University,” Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin said. “This very generous bequest recognizes both and supports those who share those experiences.”

Wilkes’ gift has created an endowment that will fund the Robert E. Wilkes Scholarship, which will each year be granted to a military veteran who’s pursuing a degree in electrical engineering and has a financial need.

During his retirement, Wilkes spent his summers living in Hilliard, Ohio, and visited the Russ College in 2011, fifty years after graduating. School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Chair David Juedes remembered meeting Wilkes in the halls of Stocker Center.

“He explained to me how his education at Ohio University had on an impact on him and his career,” Juedes said. “I believe that his education at Ohio University meant a lot to him, and that this gift was his way of showing his gratitude for the superb education that he received."