From Scholarship to Friendship: Paul E. Bates

September 10, 2013

Paul E. Bates

As they say in the movies, it was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Japheth Pritchett was a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering at Ohio State in 2007 when his advisor told him he had been selected to receive The Paul E. Bates Chemical Engineering Scholarship. That fall, he had the opportunity to meet Paul and his wife, Ruth, at the College of Engineering’s scholarship luncheon. From there, a positive connection was made.

Paul, a 1949 Ohio State graduate, served as ­­an engineer for The Procter & Gamble Company before retiring in 1987 as associate director of product development. Japheth followed in his P&G footsteps by working as a summer intern and then accepting an engineering job after graduating in 2011.

“Paul has been an incredible mentor for me and a great friend,” said Japheth, who grew up in Oklahoma as the youngest of four. He said Paul has given him perspective on life, school, and work. “Hopefully, 30 to 40 years from now, I’ll have a career as successful as his. I would love to do the exact same things he has done.”

Knowing that nearly 40 students have benefited from the scholarship—established in 1995 with matching funds from P&G—has been a humbling experience to Paul, who is now 85. Ruth, who passed away in 2012, was especially pleased to give others the gift of an education because she could not afford to go to college. “We got to do something we wanted to do and never thought we could do,” said Paul, a President’s Club donor.

“We were Depression kids,” he shared, explaining that he worked extra jobs to pay his way through Ohio State. He also received some assistance from the G.I. Bill after serving in the Army. The couple eventually had two children, Carol Ingle and Paul Jr.

Paul admits he hadn’t given thought to the fund’s impact until he heard from some of the students. “Some say they would not have been able to make it without the scholarship,” he said. “The kids wrote such nice letters. Often, what you get back is much greater than what you put in.”

Japheth has plans to help grow the Bates scholarship fund, which awards supplemental scholarships to African-American students majoring in chemical engineering at Ohio State. In this role, he will contact former classmates and past scholarship recipients to encourage both financial support of the fund and an investment of time to serve as mentors for the students.

In this way, Japheth will be able to help pay it forward and “let students know there’s somebody investing in their success,” he said. “I can’t say thanks enough to Paul.”

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