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Alumna gives $28 million gift to College of Education

Violet Patton?s 2010 donations total more than $41 million
Feb 4, 2010
By Colleen Kiphart

President Roderick J. McDavis announced that Violet Patton, a 1938 College of Education alumna, has given a $28 million gift to Ohio University in honor of her parents, David and Gladys Patton, both educators. This latest gift is in addition to a $13.3 million gift she made earlier this year. In 2010, Patton has gifted more than $41 million to Ohio University.

In recognition of this most recent generous donation, the college will be renamed in honor of her parents, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College will be only the third named college of education in Ohio.

"This multimillion dollar gift is the single largest gift ever received by our College of Education," McDavis said. "In fact, it is the largest gift to any college of education in Ohio, and one of the largest single gifts to any college of education in the nation."

The College of Education is currently undergoing restructuring and expansion and will take on several programs from the College of Health and Human Services in July. In light of these changes the College of Education will be renamed, and will receive its new, permanent name in July.

"Our faculty and staff are engaged in a collaborative process to re-name this college to recognize and to welcome the full range of disciplines it will soon encompass," McDavis said. "It will be great to see the "Patton College" come to life at Ohio University."

Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit echoed McDavis? gratitude at Patton?s generosity.

"When a college is named, it is recognition that it has not only fulfilled the promise of its founding but is ready to move to greater heights of excellence," she said.

Patton's $13.3 million gift to Ohio University will establish and fund the Violet L. Patton Center for Arts Education.

Howard Lipman, president and chief executive officer of the Ohio University Foundation, said, "Today, 72 years after her commencement from Ohio University, we?re gathered to celebrate Miss Patton?s commitment to education and her loyalty to her alma mater: loyalty that has manifested itself in another transformational contribution to our university."

Speaking about Patton and her parents, her attorney, Jack Charney, said in a prerecorded statement that, "All three were from southern Ohio, all three were born and raised there, and all three were educated at Ohio University."

David Patton was a nationally known educator, serving as the superintendent of numerous school districts in Ohio and in Syracuse, N.Y. He was renowned for his expertise in and textbooks on spelling instruction. Gladys Patton also wrote textbooks and worked with her daughter on a series of etiquette books for children.

Both David and Gladys Patton attended Ohio University. This previously unknown information was confirmed with the discovery of David Patton?s course records for the spring of 1917 and the summer of 1918.

"It is remarkable that for nearly a century the Patton family has had a connection with Ohio University," said McDavis.

According to Benoit, the college will strive to epitomize the ideals David and Gladys Patton held dear during their careers. "Their integrity, love for education and selfless dedication on behalf of others will inspire the students, faculty and staff of the college for generations to come," she said.

Though Patton and her family lived and worked throughout the state, she remained committed to southern Ohio. "She has great regard for the university and great regard and concern for the community," Charney said. He further said that it was important that the gift was "not only going to the university, but also to the region."

Dean of the College of Education Renée Middleton emphasized that this donation will have the far-reaching effects that Patton hopes for. "I am excited about the scope of its impact locally, regionally, nationally and internationally," Middleton said.

A student of Thomas Cooke McCracken, for whom McCracken Hall is named, Patton has retained fond memories of her former teacher. "She had a good relationship with Dr. McCracken," said Charney.

"Dr. McCracken wrote a recommendation letter for Miss Patton for an appointment to the faculty at Miami University of Ohio," McDavis said. "This is a letter that Miss Patton keeps among her prized Ohio University mementos still today."

Though the new college will be named for her parents, Middleton stressed that McCracken Hall will retain its current name.

Patton has extended her affection towards her alma mater to current and future Ohio University students with her gift. Her $41 million commitment to education and the arts has placed her among the top patrons in the university?s history.

A "family announcement" was made on Wednesday to members of the College of Education?s faculty and staff. Members of the faculty and staff from the incoming Health and Human Services programs were invited to attend.

Patton?s gift is already imparting important lessons to people, said Charney. "I have learned from Miss Patton the sheer pleasure a person can get from making a gift," he explained.

According to Middleton, this is a gift that will keep giving for many years to come. "We firmly believe that the future depends on our ability to prepare educators, practitioners and human service professionals who are dedicated to lifelong learning, and Miss Patton?s gift is an investment in that promise," she said.


Published: Feb 4, 2010 1:45 PM


David H. Patton


Gladys W. Patton


Violet L. Patton

Photo courtesy of: Violet L. Patton 

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