News and Announcements

$1.6+ million gift helps Ohio University’s George Washington Forum on American Ideas, Politics, and Institutions expand programming 

Faculty from departments of economics and history collaborate to support program focused on the economic history of the Western world

Ohio University’s George Washington Forum (GWF) on American Ideas, Politics, and Institutions will add a History of Capitalism focus thanks to a commitment of $1,687,500 from the Menard Family to The Ohio University Foundation.

The Forum, which was established in 2009, directs and encourages efforts to teach OHIO undergraduates the history of America and its location within the Western tradition of free societies. In recognition of this gift, the Forum will now be known as the Menard Family George Washington Forum.

“The George Washington Forum has long been committed to viewpoint diversity and open inquiry, and we’re tremendously grateful for the Menard Family’s generous support of our teaching and research mission,” said Robert G.  Ingram, Professor of History and the GWF’s founding director. “The History of Capitalism coursework, which the Menard gift makes possible, will allow us to increase historical awareness of capitalism’s history and the economic, political, intellectual, scientific and social achievements that have attended capitalism’s emergence and growth. And the GWF undergraduate fellows who participate in the program will be central to the discussion of capitalism’s past, present and future.” 

Ingram will co-lead the studies on the history of capitalism with Richard Vedder, Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor of Economics Emeritus at Ohio University.

Funding from the Menard Family will support a variety of academic efforts and opportunities for students, including a professor of economic history; postdoctoral fellowships; undergraduate research fellows; an undergraduate capstone experience; a guest speaker program; and themed book conferences.

In an open letter to the Ohio University community, the Menard family said, “Our hope is to empower as many people as possible to have the opportunity our family did to use their innate abilities to learn, contribute and succeed.”

This financial support is an example of philanthropy in support of education through The Ohio University Foundation and recognizes more than 10 years of faculty effort, engagement, and program development and delivery.

“This is a great example of faculty initiating activity to diversify the University’s sources of funding and enhance sustainability,” said Florenz Plassmann, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “I’m grateful for the private support for their work, which not only advances Ohio University’s strategic pathway to become a place where dialogue and civil debate are institutional hallmarks, but also highlights the academic excellence of our faculty and programs.”

To make a gift to the Menard Family George Washington Forum, contact The Ohio University Foundation at 800-592-FUND or Checks may be made payable to The Ohio University Foundation (be sure to write “George Washington Forum” in the notes section) and sent to the foundation at P.O. Box 869, Athens, Ohio 45701. Gifts also can be made online at

The Ohio University Foundation is the repository for all private gifts through annual giving programs, capital, and special campaigns and planned or deferred gifts. The Foundation is an institutionally related, non-profit, tax-exempt, 501c(3) organization. Each year, more than 20,000 alumni and friends make gifts to the Foundation to support students, faculty research and creative activity, innovative programs, select capital projects, and community partnerships.

November 17, 2020
Staff reports