The Ohio State University Alumni Association

The soul of the ’Shoe

While students no longer live in Ohio Stadium, Kristy Mount Staats ensures this scholarship program’s heart keeps beating.

Kristy Mount Staats ’82, ’84 MA is a 2018 recipient of The Ohio State University Alumni Association’s Josephine Sitterle Failer Award.

From studying in C-deck to sneaking into the southeast tower to ring the victory bell, the stories Kristy Mount Staats ’82, ’84 MA tells about living in Ohio Stadium fascinate incoming students year after year. These days, they are most surprised when she tells them she shared a wall phone with 12 other students.

“She makes it more than a history lesson, describing experiences from decades ago in a way that connects with current students,” says Eva Bradshaw ’82, ’82 MS, ’00 MA.

Mount is president of the Stadium Scholarship Alumni Society, and she’s seen a lot of changes to the scholarship program through the years — most notably that students are no longer housed in the stadium. But she says the cooperative spirit at its heart has remained the same, and she is going to make sure it keeps right on beating.

When the alumni society celebrated its 85th anniversary earlier this year, Mount volunteered many hours to plan the event and secure endowed scholarship funding to benefit students indefinitely.

“Ohio State is large. Cooperative living programs like the Stadium Scholarship Program help make it a home,” Mount says.

While providing housing scholarships to academically talented students with financial need, the program promotes leadership skills and Buckeye traditions, especially paying forward through community service. It also creates ties between students and alumni. In the early years, students who lived in the ’Shoe had to pitch in by cleaning bathrooms, doing dishes and handling office tasks. The quarters were more barracks-like during her Uncle Jack’s time, Mount says.

“Uncle Jack” is the late John Mount ’41, an alumnus well known for his generosity and commitment to Ohio State students. It wasn’t until she was moving in to the stadium that she learned he, too, had lived there, and he went on to serve as a longtime advisor and advocate for stadium scholars.

“It’s an honor to carry on what someone you loved and admired cared about,” says Mount, whose family continues to support and inspire her. Sharing her Buckeye heritage are husband Marty Staats ’85, who also lived in the stadium, and their children, Jared Staats ’12, ’16 OD, Jordan Staats ’15 and Hannah Staats ’18.

Mount had always planned to go to Ohio State. But when she was accepted, she suddenly wondered how she was going to pay for it. Her father had passed away when she was 8 years old, and her mother was working full time while raising five children.

That’s when the Stadium Scholarship Program came into play, allowing Mount to pursue her interest in science education. Today, she has 35 years as a high school science teacher to her credit, primarily in chemistry and physics. In that time, as many as 300 of her students from Bellefontaine High School have attended Ohio State.

“Mrs. Mount is super supportive,” says Cody Sheeley, a senior anthropology major. “When you tell her your plans, she gets just as excited as you are.”

Mount directed Sheeley to the Stadium Scholarship Program, and he settled right in, meeting some of his closest friends, just as she had. Together they worked on the Capes for Kids project, which supports children fighting life-threatening diseases at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Sara Kite ’02, another graduate from Bellefontaine, recalls how Mount made chemistry fun and engaging. “To learn from such a strong, caring woman who has dedicated her life to science and teaching others, well, I realize now what a gift I was given,” Kite says. “Because of her, the thought that girls can’t excel in science never crossed my mind.”

Mount kept in touch with Kite after she came to Ohio State, as she has with most of her former students. “As a first-generation college student, it was incredibly helpful to have her guidance,” Kite explains. “She knew me from ‘back home,’ but we had a shared experience as Ohio State students.”

Though she treasures the stadium memories, what Mount values most are the bright futures she sees for every hardworking, compassionate Ohio State student she has helped along the way.