President's Club eNews
Meet Dr. Michelle Harcha
Longtime President’s Club donor Dr. Michelle Harcha (BS ’81, DVM ’85) is grateful for the opportunities she had at Ohio State, both as a student and a faculty member. She shares her thoughts with other President’s Club donors and poses a vitally important question to us all: What impact do you want to make today and how will you pay forward?
What does being in the President’s Club mean to you?
Being recognized in President’s Club connects me to a community of friends and alumni who share the same goal: to make a positive difference in our university today and in the future. Recognition in the President’s Club is one way I can “pay forward” to the university that has given so much to me. At the age of 13, I knew I wanted to become a veterinarian and Ohio State helped me fulfill that dream. I received my undergraduate degree in 1981 from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. In 1985, I earned my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Now, I can give back to the university that helped me realize my dream, while also providing me with a lifelong career that fulfilled my passion and dedication to protecting the health and wellbeing of animals and people.
What is your connection to Ohio State?
My love for Ohio State is shared by my family. My grandfather, Dr. S. R. White, was a 1922 graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine. When I was young, he told my parents that one day I would become a veterinarian. I fulfilled his vision and was honored to follow in his footsteps in the College of Veterinary Medicine and as a member of Omega Tau Sigma veterinary fraternity.
My parents attended Ohio State and met there as well. My dad, Howard Harcha, Jr. (Law ’48) was a member of The Ohio State University Marching Band. He is thought to be the last known survivor of the woodwind instrument band members that played during home football games and performed Script Ohio during WWII, before he, too, was drafted. My dad proposed to my mom, Mary Lee, in Ohio Stadium during the Wisconsin game in 1954. They modeled servant leadership to me from an early age, both in their giving to Ohio State and through service in leadership positions in the Scioto County Alumni Club, the Buckeye Advocates and the College of Law Alumni Society.
My brother, Judge Hank Harcha (’79) attended Ohio State before me, as well as his wife, Peggy. In addition, their triplet sons – my nephews – as well as several uncles and cousins all attended Ohio State.
In 2007, I had the privilege to return to my alma mater as an employee and served 10 years as the Director of Alumni Services and Professional Development Education in the College of Veterinary Medicine. While working at Ohio State, I had the chance to reconnect with many organizations that meant so much to me as a student: Mortar Board, the Ohio State Alumni Association, Omega Tau Sigma and the President’s Club. In addition, I found new opportunities to serve and joined the Medicine and the Arts board and led the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Pelotonia Team as captain and rider. As a cancer survivor and advocate, I am also a James Ambassador. These organizations continue to be a part of my contributions to Ohio State.
Why do you give to Ohio State and what has been the most rewarding part of giving?
While serving as the Director of Alumni Services and Professional Development Education at the College of Veterinary Medicine, I experienced firsthand the generosity of President’s Club donors. Many of my students received generous scholarships funded by alumni and friends of the college, which helped our Buckeyes reduce their student debt and gave them a better start as they entered the profession. The Professional Development curriculum that I led for 10 years started because of the generous donation of one veterinarian. The program provides business skills to veterinary students, including lectures on personal finance, emotional intelligence, client and veterinary health care team communication, and leadership. Ohio State veterinary graduates gain professional skills as well as a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The program also helped to recruit and retain outstanding students to the college. All of that and so much more thanks to the generosity and vision of donors. I am taking the lessons one step further: in 2017, I started LeadYourShip, LLC, to provide communication, emotional intelligence, and leadership skills to members of the veterinary profession who did not have access to these courses as students.
Why would you encourage others to give?
I have seen the important positive impact of so many donors and alumni to the college and university during my time at Ohio State. I witnessed the incredible difference that gifts make to support the education of students, reduce their debt, provide unique programs, purchase equipment, and even improve infrastructure through renovations and the construction of new buildings.
I often reflect on the impact I want to have today and the legacy I want to leave. I encourage people to give because every gift makes a difference in someone’s life and education. That gift will impact their family and the communities they serve. By giving to the university today as part of the President’s Club, I can witness the impact my gift makes to students through scholarship funds, to the colleges that provided me with my education and career, and the student organizations that I served. I encourage others to give by asking: What impact do you want to make today and how will you pay forward?
How a Buckeye is helping to fight COVID-19
Gabe Meister is doing the most rewarding work of his career. His path to get here runs through Ohio State twice.
Meister, a Mansfield native and a “Buckeye my entire life,” received his PhD from The Ohio State University in 2005. Now a researcher at Battelle, he has returned to his alma mater to work in a new collaborative effort that is making tremendous headway in improving the accuracy of viral RNA testing for COVID-19 and the speed with which those tests can be processed.
The laboratory, housed on Ohio State’s campus in the Biomedical Research Tower and directed through the Department of Pathology, has been in operation since mid-March and received philanthropic support from the outset from donors across Ohio State, including President’s Club donors.
“This team is incredible,” Dr. Meister says. “Seeing so many people come together for a common cause really says a lot about Ohio, it says a lot about Ohio State and about Battelle, but it says a lot about people. I can’t imagine the impact that we can have going forward with a mind toward collaboration and help and support and encouragement.”
More than 100 researchers and clinicians from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have been working with Battelle researchers in the lab. The team has developed an accelerated testing platform that can deliver results within hours and with a higher level of accuracy. They’ve been able to process as many as 2,000 tests in a day.
“This is a case where literally every dollar matters for making critical clinical decisions,” said Peter Mohler, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.
“The faster we can accelerate testing, the more lives we impact. I am so proud of the teams of researchers and physicians from Battelle and Ohio State. This team is special. The dedication of every single one of them is inspiring. I wish everyone in Ohio could see their passion. Their teamwork is like nothing that I have ever seen.”
For Dr. Meister, the collaborative work being done has a more personal aspect to it.
“I have three little ones, and maybe, I hope that they see this and they say ‘I want to be part of the solution in the future. I want to have a curious mind,’” he says. “I hope that they see all of the good that is coming out of people in this time of need.”
Highlighting the good
Even in times of crisis, it is important to highlight the good. President’s Club donors share a common passion for, and pride in, Ohio State. You have always been there for us, making a lasting impact in the lives of students, researchers, faculty and staff through your generous contributions. One of our scholarship recipients, Sylvia Cressman, recently shared how your support has impacted her educational experience.
“Having this scholarship has allowed me to focus on my passion for environmentally friendly engineering and focus on what I came to do at Ohio State: become a mechanical engineer. I am forever grateful for the opportunities this scholarship has given me. Thank you to everyone who helped make this scholarship possible. You all are the reason I have been able to pursue these wonderful opportunities at Ohio State.”
Sylvia is second-year Eminence Fellow majoring in mechanical engineering. She is adjusting to learning online as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. While it has been more challenging than learning in the classroom, she is appreciative of the help and flexibility her professors have provided. Sylvia expects to graduate in 2022.
Participating in the HackOhio Hackathon at Ohio State, sponsored by Honda/Mobikit this past year, Sylvia and a team of three Ohio State students worked 24 hours straight to design and code a project of their choice. The team developed a rider check-in system with an app and driver updates to better connect drivers and bus riders in Columbus. The hope is that the system will improve sustainability and reliability of the COTA bus system. Sylvia was able to use her mechanical engineering skills, while being creative and developing her computer programming skills. Her team won the competition!
Sylvia enjoys traveling and has visited 49 of 50 States with her family. Last summer, she was given the opportunity to travel to Tanzania, where she worked alongside Ohio State professors and students to design and install a solar lighting system at an orphanage/school. “This was an amazing experience where I not only got to use my engineering skills, but was part of an Ohio State team, making a difference across the globe.”
This inspiring story of what our students are able to accomplish because of your generosity is just one of many. At a time where so many things are uncertain, we take comfort in knowing that our President’s Club community members always offer support.
Meet Press Southworth III
Press Southworth III (BSBA ’75) is executive director of the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus, a role in which he has served for the past seven years. He is a member of the Fisher College of Business Alumni Board and is recognized in the President’s Club. A decorated U.S. Army veteran, he shares his story about being a first-generation student at Ohio State, the accounting and business leaders that shaped him, and the career shift that took him from accounting into the arts.
What is your connection to Ohio State?
I grew up in Columbus, and The Ohio State University was always part of my life. Everyone knows that I am a Buckeye through and through.
What does being in the President’s Club mean to you?
It is rewarding to see The Ohio State University recognize my commitment to this great institution and to know that it is setting an example for others.
Describe your experience as a member of the military and how it intersected with your education at Ohio State.
I grew up in Columbus and have always been a Buckeye. After high school, I was drafted by the U.S. Army and served four-and-a-half years including a tour in Vietnam. I went through Officer Candidate School and graduated as a lieutenant, eventually becoming a captain. After the Army, I decided to stay close to home and study at Ohio State on the G.I. Bill. At that point, I was married to Joan — a Columbus native and 1969 graduate from what is now the College of Education and Human Ecology — and had two young children. I was proud that as a military veteran, as a first-generation student at Ohio State and as someone with a family, I completed my course work in three years and was named a Pace Setter and the outstanding scholar leader in 1975.
How has Ohio State/Fisher equipped, prepared you or made a difference in your career?
Being selected as part of the accounting debate team and then competing as a member helped build my confidence in public speaking, which I’ve found to be invaluable throughout my career.
Talk about your career and how you moved from accounting to becoming a business leader in the arts.
When I worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, I made it a goal to be involved in the community. I did this by choosing at least one school or church organization, one health and welfare organization and one arts organization. I was a past chair of the Opera Columbus board and was newly retired when the Opera ran into some financial difficulties. I joined the organization as a four-month volunteer business manager. That role eventually turned into a full-time executive director position, where I spent five years. Then I assumed the presidency of the Columbus Cultural Leadership Consortium and became a community arts leader in that respect. I am now at the Jazz Arts Group, where I have served as executive director for the past seven years. In total, I have led 10 nonprofit organizations over the years, including the Ohio Society of CPAs, the local chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants, Prevent Blindness Ohio and March of Dimes of Central Ohio.
Do you have a favorite business faculty member or mentor who helped shape who you are today?
Tom Burns taught the honors class in accounting. I couldn’t afford to devote the extra time needed to be in the honors class, but he involved me anyway. Robert Georges was an assistant dean of the business school and a retired military officer. He helped answer many of my questions and helped me create a schedule that fit everything into my day. After I completed my degree, I became involved with Pace Setters and through that, I helped to raise funds to establish the Robert E. Georges Senior Award, which is presented to a graduating senior at Fisher in recognition of academic excellence and outstanding leadership. In 1975, I received a similar honor from Ohio State President Harold Enarson. And in 2009, I received the Pace Setter Executive Award — bringing it all full circle.
What is your favorite business school-related memory from Ohio State/Fisher?
I was proud to have the highest grade in each of my accounting classes and to serve as a tutor for a business education student, who finished with the second-highest grade in their class.
Did you have a favorite spot on campus? Why was it special?
Mirror Lake. It was where I shared a first kiss with the young lady who would later become my wife for the past 51 years…and counting.
Why do you give to Ohio State and what has been the most rewarding part of giving?
As a first-generation and military veteran student at Ohio State, the education and guidance I received from the faculty and staff provided me with the opportunity for a successful career. Paying forward to future generations is very important to me. I have seen the benefits that Fisher College of Business provided my daughter, Jennifer Southworth (BSBA '00), that have enabled her and her successful career at UPS.
Why would you encourage others to give?
I am particularly committed to supporting Fisher College of Business. The importance of quality and ethical leadership in business is important to the success of our nation. In order to have quality faculty and facilities, it requires the support of those of us who reaped the benefits of our experience at The Ohio State University.
Meet President’s Club scholarship recipient Eric Devney
Since the inception of the President’s Club scholarship in 1991, 40 students have received the scholarship. Eric Devney, a second-year student from North Royalton, Ohio, majoring in chemical engineering, is one of the recipients.
Eric is enrolled in the University Honors Program and also is a member of the Eminence Fellowship Program.
Before his senior year in high school, Eric participated in a summer research project at the University of Akron. He spent more than 200 hours in the lab and realized he had an intense interest in chemical e. His research project pertained to the use of body implants in the human body. Body implants are increasingly common in health care but also are prone to corrosion. While attending an engineering class at Ohio State, studying micro and nanotechnology, Eric worked with a group of classmates, who designed a chip used to detect syphilis from a single drop of blood. The chip was fully designed in SOLIDWORKS, a 3D CAD program, and is still theoretical, but with proper research into its intricacies, the design could be expanded into a physical model. Eric and his team came in first place for the best nanotechnology project of all first-year students.
Eric is grateful for the support of the President’s Club scholarship. Last summer, he was able to travel to New Zealand for a study abroad experience, where he learned about sustainable tourism and ethical business practices on the country’s South Island. “Without scholarships, I never would have been to see more of the world and learn from this wonderful experience.”
Meet the Manning family
Allie Manning (BA '15), Steven Manning (OD '18), Joann (BA'82, Certificate of Dental Hygiene '82),
Dr. Bruce Manning (OD '81), Dr. Justin Manning (OD '13) and Danielle Manning (BS '11, MA '13)
Graduates of Ohio State’s College of Optometry love to make puns. However, for optometrist Bruce Manning, ’81, a President's Club donor, wordplay is unnecessary when it comes to his memories of being a student almost forty years ago.
“My wife Joanne and I met at Ohio State,” he says. “It was some of the best times of our lives.”
To keep those vivid feelings vibrant, Bruce and Joanne frequently visit campus. They make the trip down from their home in Wadsworth, Ohio, where Bruce first opened his optometry practice in 1982. For them, the affinity for Ohio State runs deep.
“Our sons also felt this connection,” Bruce said. “They decided to enroll here for their undergraduate as well as optometry college studies.” In fact, both of Joanne and Bruce’s sons, Steven and Justin, as well as their wives, Allie and Danielle, all graduated from Ohio State.
The College of Optometry gave Bruce the knowledge to offer the best possible care for his patients and build a successful career. Since opening his practice that he still maintains today, he has served the Ohio Optometric Association in many positions, attaining the office of president in 2006. He was named “Optometrist of the Year” for the state of Ohio for 2013, and currently serves on various committees for the American Optometric Association.
Giving back is important to Bruce and his family. Because of this commitment to philanthropy, he served on the College of Optometry’s “But for Ohio State” committee, which enabled him to see just how meaningful personal giving is for everyone involved.
“It’s so important to me to reconnect with the college and see just how we can impact the lives of their students,” Bruce said. “I want to see the College of Optometry, and the university as a whole, continue to thrive and attract the best students available.”
By being a part of President’s Club, Bruce and his family strengthen their connection to Ohio State.
“We enjoy being a part of something bigger than ourselves,” Bruce said. “With the college in the middle of a new building project as well, the willingness to give back is truly a ground-breaking opportunity.”
Meet Michelle Kuhlwein
The Ostrander, Ohio farming community is facing hard times this year. Heavy rains into June suspended planting, and agricultural tariffs sliced into profits.
Against this backdrop, Michelle Kuhlwein, co-owner of Kuhlwein Farms with her husband, Larry, said one question kept surfacing with neighbors: “Would the sixth annual Kuhlwein Farms Night at the Races go on?”
The answer: “Even if our farming community can’t give as much as we’ve given before, we can come together and do what we can do,” Michelle says. “We’re going to put our problems aside to help others.”
So, once again the Kuhlweins and their grown sons, Dustin and Jared, will transform their 16-acre grain farm into the site for their annual fundraising event. Proceeds from the event support the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer and the Urban and Shelley Meyer Fund for Cancer Research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
The Kuhlweins have also been Buckeye Cruise donors since 2009, its second year, and Jared frequently volunteers on the boat.
Like many President’s Club donors, the Kuhlweins became connected to The Ohio State University in a roundabout way. They have no personal ties to Ohio State or The James. Larry grew up in a Hilliard, Ohio farm family and moved his own farming operation to Ostrander, Ohio as a young man. Michelle grew up in Plain City, Ohio and her mother, an active community volunteer, was a kind and giving person. “That’s how I am the way I am,” Michelle shares.
Their longtime friend and grain broker invited Michelle on the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, and she got swept up in the passion. When cruise founder Lisa Cisco told cruisers that if 1,000 people could raise $1,000 each, they’d raise $1 million, Michelle thought, “I could do that.” That’s when she started Night at the Races on the family farm.
The Kuhlweins’ August event is a unique fundraising experience, creating a virtual horse racing event on television sets which attendees can participate in, along with an auction for which local businesses provide in-kind donations. The Kuhlweins raised $10,000 their first year and a record $53,000 last year with 300 people in attendance.
No matter the size of their donation, Michelle wants everyone to feel like they have contributed to the night’s fundraising total. “That’s what this is all about,” she says. “People come and they are relaxed and know they are making a difference. We all feel better around each other.”
Michelle’s commitment to the OSUCCC – James has deepened the more she has learned about its work. In 2017, the hospital saved her friend’s 26-year-old son after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. And in a twist of fate, during one Night at the Races, two men struck up a conversation about health symptoms they were experiencing, and the conversation led one of them to receive a diagnosis from OSUCCC – James that saved his life.
For Michelle, the reward of being a President’s Club donor is the recognition that her family is helping others. “It’s not a status thing for us,” she explains. “It’s a symbol that our family is doing things for the right reasons.”
Meet President’s Club Scholarship Recipient Varshita Chirumamilla
Since 1991, over 40 students have received the President’s Club Scholarship. Read on to learn about one of our recent recipients, Varshita Chirumamilla, and how you’ve transformed her Ohio State experience.
As a freshman at Ohio State, I am pursuing a major in Biomedical Science with the goal of becoming a physician after my undergraduate studies. My hometown is a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, so I've considered myself a Buckeye my whole life! Moving forward in college, I hope to take advantage of opportunities and meet members of the diverse student body that attends Ohio State. This campus has a plethora of resources and experiences which I hope to encounter in the next four years, especially as an Eminence Fellow of the Honors program.
My academic focus are science and the study of health and society. I plan to complete my four-year undergraduate program in Biomedical Science and continue onto a research medical school, with a residency in pediatric cardiology or radiology. With an additional interest in the interaction of medicine and the public, I hope to also earn a minor in Health and Society or Medical Humanities.
My passions include the promotion of children’s health and global healthcare disparities. I am on the executive board of the undergraduate Doctors Without Borders chapter here at Ohio State, and volunteer at the James Cancer Center. My research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Cardiovascular Research Institute has also allowed me to understand the inquiry process and delve into the workings of congenital pediatric heart diseases. Apart from these medical experiences, I am also involved in Ohio State’s Indian American Association as a Freshman Representative. As a tennis player and artist, I hope to incorporate creativity and enthusiasm into my daily academic and extracurricular endeavors, work towards future in medicine, and enjoying being a Buckeye.
What the President’s Club scholarship means to me is that the Ohio State community invests in their students. The recognition of student achievement and scholarship on campus is more important than ever; there are many issues in the world that undergrads have the potential to solve, and reducing their financial burden will help them do so. Personally, I hope to use this scholarship as an opportunity to give back to the community through the creation of a service project with my classmates, and make good on the investment made in us.
I am very lucky to have been considered for this scholarship, and want to express my deepest appreciation for all the donors who believe in students. It is very encouraging that alumni enjoyed their time at Ohio State so much that they help current students have their own experiences. As a central Ohio resident for my whole life, Ohio State truly is my home. There is nothing this school doesn’t offer for its students, from state-of-the-art academics to the best athletics in the country. Attending Ohio State was always my goal, which wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of the President’s Club, which laid the foundation for my future here at Ohio State.
Meet Dan Leite
For most of his adult life, Dan Leite had no reason to worry about the health of his heart.
He’s always been an athlete. A competitive tennis player who undertook a few half-marathons in college, his love of running was born in 1995 when a light verbal jab stoked Dan’s curiosity about running a full marathon.
“My thoughts were, ‘I’d always like to run a marathon,’ and after telling someone that, another friend of mine made a joke and said ‘There’s no way you can run a marathon,’” Dan recalls.
Not only did he complete the Columbus Marathon that year, he qualified for the 100th Boston Marathon at age 31 – an accomplishment that only about 10 percent of marathon finishers achieve.
“Mentally and physically, it was great for me,” says Dan, who would go on to run 153 more marathons, along with several other triathlons, including an Ironman.
Twenty years later, a doctor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center told Dan that his love of running helped save his life.
Dan noticed he was struggling to catch his breath even during short runs in 2011, and he was diagnosed shortly thereafter with cardiomyopathy – a disease that causes heart muscle to become enlarged or rigid. By late 2015, doctors at the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital told Dan that a transplant was his only option. Dan still vividly recalls the conversation he had with Ayesha Hasan, M.D., medical director of the Cardiac Transplant Program at the Wexner Medical Center.
“Your fitness and your marathoning have saved your life to this point,” she told him. “You should be dead. If you were a sedentary person, you might not be with us.”
What came next was the greatest Christmas gift of Dan’s life. Midafternoon on Christmas Eve, Dan learned there was a heart available for him.
“My wife started to cry, because she was overjoyed,” Dan says. “At first, I thought ‘This is tremendous. I have a chance at getting a life back.’ But I also instantaneously knew what had happened to make this possible. And I teared up, thinking about what that family must be going through.”
Overnight, a team of surgeons led by Bryan Whitson, MD, PhD, completed Dan’s heart transplant. His new heart began beating just after midnight.
“He was just very motivated,” Dr. Whitson recalls of Dan. “Running saved his life, for a couple of reasons. For one, he was in good condition, and I feel like it gave him something else to live for.”
Dan’s passion for running remains, and in 2018 he completed his first marathon with his new heart. He describes himself now as “more of a completer than a competer.”
Among the ways Dan has given back to Ohio State is by donating his old heart, which had enlarged to about four times the size of a healthy one, so researchers could use it.
“Emily and I also try to give back to Ohio State through the President’s Club, specifically supporting the heart failure and transplant program at the Ross,” Dan says. “Other people giving at this level helped facilitate the research and care that helped create the miracle of saving my life. It’s important to Emily and me to support amazing people like Dr. Hasan, Dr. Whitson and the entire team at the Ross.
“I’m me again. Me getting back to normal and getting to live my life again might have been the greatest thank you I could give to my donor and to people at the Ross.”
Thanks to Buckeyes like you, 31 students have received the President’s Club scholarship since its inception in 1991.
One of these students, Collin Aldrich, can instantly bring a smile to your face.
A first-year Eminence Scholar from Cincinnati, Collin is studying integrated business and engineering with a primary focus on operations management and a minor in engineering science. Collin looks to a career where he can use his skills in the one area he is most passionate about: supporting others.
From the beginning of his college career, Collin decided to become involved. He served as an Ohio State Welcome Leader (OWL) assisting with move-in, which provided him the opportunity to meet a wide segment of students. He supports the Ohio State Theatre Arts Group, which is connected to the Columbus Gifted Academy and is involved in several other service-based organizations. He also enjoys visiting the various communities surrounding campus, including his favorite, the Short North. As an Eminence Scholar, he and a group of students are planning a service project in the Columbus community. Collin hopes to make an impact on campus and beyond.
Just a semester into his collegiate studies, Collin plans to travel abroad in Europe and join more service-based organizations. He hopes to start research in the cross section of business and technology, where he can utilize his interdisciplinary perspectives and gain insight on the professional world. In addition to business and engineering, he intends to broaden his multidisciplinary studies even more by pursuing a minor in science, engineering and public policy.
Collin is thankful for the support that the President’s Club scholarship has provided to him. It has allowed him the chance to explore his passions and also offers him the opportunity to pay forward.
Meet the Waldens
Larry Walden ’85 and Patricia Walden ’75, married for 51 years, have been active participants in President’s Club since 2010. They met as undergrads at Western Kentucky University, and both went on to receive their master’s degrees at Ohio State.
Those degrees didn’t come easily. The couple lived in Coshocton, Ohio, which meant a 70-mile commute to school. Larry also balanced a full-time job that required him to travel constantly across state lines and attend school on the weekends. He’d travel with two briefcases: one for business and one for school.
Both are grateful for the opportunities they received at Ohio State — and after they retired, they wanted to make sure other students had the same opportunities they did.
What does being in the President’s Club mean to you?
We first started out in the Buckeye Club, but after supporting the athletic program, we wanted to go beyond sports. One thing we absolutely love about President’s Club is the flexibility to donate across the university. The staff is incredible as well. Whenever we need a question answered, Cheryl (Sefchick) has always been there for us, and it really makes us feel connected to the university. Out of the 500,000 alumni that we have, the thousands of sustaining members in the Alumni Association, being in the President’s Club gives us a personal touch and we truly feel connected to the university. It really makes us feel as if we are still close to campus.
What is your connection to Ohio State?
Our true connection to Ohio State has to be with the President’s Club staff. They are always there for us whenever we need it and can easily smooth out or clarify any issues that may arise. While we can’t be major gift donors, the President’s Club makes us feel that any sized gift is a valuable gift. They make sure we can clearly see the impact we have done. Our current endowed scholarship for undergraduate students enrolled in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and majoring in construction systems management is a passion of ours, and we hope with this opportunity, more women will become involved in construction management.
Why do you give to Ohio State and what has been the most rewarding part of giving?
We are extremely grateful for the degrees we received at Ohio State, and we want to make sure every student has the opportunity we had. We want to continue opening doors for students.
Larry: I enjoyed being a mentor in the MBA program and participated much more as an alumnus. This is our way of giving back.
Patricia: One of the reasons why we created our scholarship (the Bilik-Walden Endowed Scholarship) was to empower women to join and make a successful career in a male-dominated field. I would love to see more females in this field.
Why would you encourage others to give?
When good research gets put into action, we all win. We love it when we see a veterinarian or a doctor who got their education from Ohio State, because it makes us feel that we contributed to supporting their education, which in turn supports society. If people are ever curious about donating, put in the research. Find out what you’re passionate about, research what programs Ohio State has in relation to your passion, and donate! Giving is easy, and no matter how big it is, Ohio State shares results. They make every donation feel valuable.
Meet Dr. Andrew Maccabe
It can cost a lot to become a veterinarian, and the state doesn’t subsidize public higher education like it used to. That’s why Dr. Andrew Maccabe, a longtime President’s Club donor, established a scholarship that benefits students enrolled in Ohio State’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.
The Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe Endowed Scholarship Fund gives preference to students who show an interest in public policy or public health, because “I believe that there is great opportunity for veterinarians to influence public policy to promote human and animal health,” he said.
Dr. Maccabe’s career shows just how possible that is.
After graduating from the College of Veterinary Medicine with his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees in 1981 and 1985, Dr. Maccabe began his professional career in Jefferson, Ohio, where he worked in a mixed animal practice with a primary emphasis on dairy herd health.
In 1988, he was commissioned as a public health officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he managed the preventive medicine activities of several Air Force installations and directed programs in occupational health, communicable disease control and health promotion.
Dr. Maccabe believes the education he received as a veterinary student at Ohio State prepared him to change his career path from private practice to a public health focus.
“I was equipped with the right tools and expertise to advance my career,” he said. “I was ready to take on whatever came my way.”
A dedicated lifelong learner, Dr. Maccabe continued his education while simultaneously advancing his career. He received his Master of Public Health degree at Harvard University in 1995 and became Chief of the Health Risk Assessment Branch of the U.S. Air Force, where he directed the service’s health risk assessment program for environmental restoration activities. He also received his Juris Doctor degree at the University of Arizona in 2002, and later that year became the associate executive director at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C.
In 2007, Dr. Maccabe joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was appointed liaison to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where he coordinated policies and programs between the two agencies. That same year he received the Alumni Recognition Award from Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Maccabe returned to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges in 2012 as chief executive officer. It is through this lens that he has seen what a decline in public support has meant to veterinary medicine graduates across the country — and why it’s so important for donors like him to give.
“I want to pay back the subsidy I received,” Dr. Maccabe said, “and I want to pay forward for a new graduate to offset some of their educational debt.”
Meet Surabhi Tewari
You change lives through the President's Club Scholarship. Because of Buckeyes like you, 27 students have received the President’s Club Scholarship since its launch in 1991. Read on to learn about our latest recipient, Surabhi Tewari, and how you’ve transformed her Ohio State experience.
"My college experience would not have been the same without the President’s Club Scholarship, and I am grateful for all of the opportunities it has given me. When I graduate, I will be able to look back at my four years and know that my diverse experiences at Ohio State will impact the rest of my life.
And what eye-opening experiences they’ve been: I’ve studied in Barcelona, taught as an assistant in general chemistry, and conducted research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Ohio State Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. I helped co-found OSU Inaayat, Ohio State’s first Indian classical dance team, and served as a co-captain. I’ve also been able to volunteer for some incredible causes, including the student-run BuckeyeThon fundraiser for pediatric cancer, the Noor Community Clinic for the medically underserved in Columbus, and the Girls Circle Project, which aims to empower young women.
This fall, I will start medical school at Washington University in St. Louis. My public health minor has reinforced my desire to work with underserved populations at a global level, and I hope one day to create clinics for young girls and women in India and other areas of the world.
Receiving the President’s Club Scholarship has allowed me to explore my interests and develop my passions without any limitations. I am able to take the classes I find interesting and pursue the activities I find rewarding in order to discover what is truly meaningful to me."
Meet Sherry Chan
When Sherry S. Chan hears someone shout “O-H,” she likes the feeling of comfort it gives her. It’s like hearing from an old friend.
“I immediately feel I’m back home, that I can go up and start chatting with them like people from my neighborhood I haven’t seen in ages,” she said. “Sharing an O-H embodies a sense of Midwestern hospitality and a culture of friendliness, openness and warmth.”
A Hilliard native and two-time Ohio State graduate — earning a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science and mathematics in 2001 and an executive MBA in 2012 — Chan has 20 years of international actuarial experience, with a specialty in retirement benefits. She also served as chief actuarial officer for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and chief actuary for the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.
Now living in New York City, she serves as only the fifth chief actuary in the city’s history and is one of the highest-ranking Asian-American officials in the administration. In her role, she serves five retirement systems and is charged with safeguarding $190 billion in retirement benefits for about 750,000 public employees, including police officers, firefighters and educators.
Chan describes her role as assessing and putting a price tag on risk. Her years of professional experience and her stellar reputation among colleagues have placed her in the coveted ranking of 40 Under 40 Rising Stars of New York.
“I am very grateful for everything that I’ve achieved to date,” Chan said. “Ohio State has indisputably been one of the most important gateways in helping me be where I am today.”
She was recently recognized by the President’s Club and named to the university’s Mathematics Advisory Board, whose members have excelled in a wide variety of careers and pursuits related to mathematical sciences. Members are invited to join the board and are invested in the department’s success.
In those spare moments she finds for outside pursuits, Chan said she likes developing her skills as a yoga instructor, intermediate golfer and professional cake decorator. “It’s not difficult to find Buckeyes in any city of the world who have pursued all sorts of paths in life,” she said. “We all spent a pivotal part of our lives in a common place, but we each took that experience and did something different and equally interesting with it.
“To know we launched from the same institution and can conquer so much makes me proud to be a Buckeye.”
Meet Tierra Oliver
Tierra Oliver is not what you’d call a hugger. But when she met the woman who helped pay for her junior and senior years of college, she couldn’t help herself. “I just went for a hug,” Tierra said. “I wanted to thank her.”
Oliver, 22, graduated from Ohio State in 2017 and is working for the Red Cross during an 11-month AmeriCorps placement. When she’s finished, she plans to attend graduate school and find a job in logistics. She hasn’t gotten this far without a little help.
Always a Buckeyes fan, she decided to attend Ohio State after she graduated from high school in Lima. The business degree offered at Ohio State University in Lima was a perfect fit. She was able to live at home and save thousands of dollars. During her third year, she learned that she could apply for scholarships, so she did. She expected nothing until the day a note arrived in her inbox. “I opened the email, and I freaked out,” she said. “I called my mom and said, ‘You are not going to believe what I just got in my email.’”
Among the financial assistance she’d received was the Ross McCain Scholarship, named after Jaye McCain’s late husband. Both McCains, recognized in the President’s Club since 2000, were passionate about the Lima campus and its students, and Jaye created the fund to help business majors just like Tierra.
The money allowed Tierra to focus on her studies during her junior and senior years. She was able to work less and graduate without taking out a single loan. And so when she met Jaye during a university event, she couldn’t contain her emotions. She tried to thank her benefactor, but Jaye wasn’t having it. “She is so modest,” Tierra said. “I told her thank you, and she said, ‘Don’t thank me.’ She said, ‘You better stop saying that.’” Instead, she told Jaye that when she’s financially stable enough, she hopes to give back, too. She’s seen firsthand how much a scholarship can mean to a student. “It helps so much, I kind of don’t have words to describe it,” she said. “It shows you that somebody who doesn’t even know you believes in you.”
A Hospital with Heart
Think of an Ohio State football legend, and Ed Ferkany probably has a personal story about him.
Ever hear the one about Woody Hayes running out of gas in Michigan and pushing the car across the state line so he didn’t have to buy anything in That State Up North? It’s exaggerated – he made it across the state line on fumes, Ed says. He should know. He was driving.
Or Archie Griffin: When Ed was an assistant football coach at the U.S. Naval Academy, he spent three years recruiting the running back from Eastmoor Academy in Columbus. While he couldn’t get the future star to come to Annapolis, he got to coach him anyway. In 1972, Hayes hired Ed away from Navy to coach the offensive line at Ohio State – where Archie Griffin was a freshman.
Or how about this one? Ed was on the board of trustees at Bowling Green State University in 2001 when they voted to take a chance on a guy who had never been a college football head coach – Urban Meyer.
But Ed’s best stories come from a different team at Ohio State: the physicians and staff at Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.
After retiring from Worthington Industries in 2003, Ed was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. A neighbor referred him to Ohio State and to cardiologist Dr. Bill Abraham, who determined Ed was suffering from amyloidosis, a rare, incurable disease that causes protein to build up in organs. When the tests showed Ed had it, additional tests showed something even worse: the disease had significantly weakened his heart.
Dr. Abraham designed a treatment course for Ed that included a pacemaker/defibrillator and a drug regimen. Ed’s heart strength got markedly better, and with the unwavering support of his wife, Jeanne, and their five children, his quality of life greatly improved.
“It’s an incredible partnership, an incredible love story,” Dr. Abraham says of the Ferkanys, who have been married for 58 years. “My wife and I just love them. We want to be like them.”
The admiration goes both ways. The Ferkanys give back to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center because of the quality of care Ed has received.
“Columbus is fortunate in general to have this hospital. This is by far the best,” Ed says. “These doctors -- they’re clinicians, they teach and they do research.”
Moreover, Ed says, the doctors make sure to get to know their patients well and ensure that they have individualized treatment plans for them.
“It’s something I learned in recruiting way back when: You don’t treat everybody the same.”
Now 81, Ed will be honored in February along with his family as part of a fundraising campaign for the Ross Heart Hospital. A version of Ohio Stadium built from 1 million LEGO bricks sits in the lobby of the Ross, the handiwork of Dr. Paul Janssen, who leads the Human Hearts Program at the Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute. For donations to cardiovascular research, Dr. Janssen will put minifigures in the stadium representing donors. One minifigure will represent Ed, a special twist on the role he used to play in the stadium when he patrolled the sidelines as a coach.
Ed’s daughter Cheryl, a President’s Club donor, is coordinating an effort to have custom LEGO minifigures made of both her parents, as well buying enough minifigures to represent the extended family. She recently also made a gift to the Unverferth House, which provides free, temporary housing for patients at the Wexner Medical Center. She intends to make the LEGO gift in conjunction with Ohio State’s Day of Giving on Feb. 28.
“My father is a great man, and I’m always looking for ways to honor him,” Cheryl says. “I can’t pay him back for the love, the stable home, the education and the encouragement he provided to me all my life, but I can pay it forward in his name.”
December 2017 eNews
Meet Brian Williamson
Brian Williamson’s tenacity, drive and persistence helped bring him professional success.
When those characteristics threatened to take everything from him, he found help in two places: his family, and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The Troy, Ohio, resident started his own steel business in 1982, a time in his life which he now sums up by saying “I was the poster boy for Type A personalities.” He admits he “ate too much, smoked too much and drank too much,” and in 1999 he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He was 49.
His treatment at Ohio State began that year, with a pacemaker and a clinical trial. But his health continued to deteriorate until 2012, when his oldest son accompanied him to an appointment. Brian had plans to leave shortly after the appointment on an extended trip to Florida. Those plans came to a halt when his cardiologist, Dr. Garrie Haas, took note of his gray skin and told him he needed to be admitted immediately.
“I said, ‘I’ve got a big event coming up in three weeks. I’ll be in after that,’” Brian recalls. “He looks at me and he says ‘Oh, you’re gonna have a big event.’”
He had a heart pump installed and qualified for a transplant, which ultimately came in June 2014. He donated his heart for research at Ohio State’s Human Heart Program, which does more research on live human heart tissue than any program in the world.
The program, led by Paul Janssen, PhD, incorporates 17 labs working together to study human hearts that have been donated. The hearts can be kept beating for up to five days, and the collaborative nature of the labs examining a single human heart can help researchers make better correlations about how different parts of the heart function together. Those kinds of discoveries can lead to breakthroughs in preventing and treating arrhythmia, cardiac disease and heart failure.
The heart wasn’t all Brian donated – this fall, he made a contribution to help fund additional research in the Human Heart Program. His donation was made in conjunction with a fundraising campaign that incorporated a replica of Ohio Stadium that Dr. Janssen built out of about 1 million LEGOs. For a $20 donation to his research, Janssen installs a minifigure to represent the donor in the stadium.
Among those represented there now: Brian’s family, which includes his girlfriend, Jill, five children and nine grandchildren.
Now 68, Brian says he’s stronger than he’s been in years. He attributes his recovery to the persistence of his family and to the care he received at Ohio State. His grandchildren – “a big, big part of my life,” he says – are among the many beneficiaries of the lifesaving work he received.
“Looking back, I came so, so close to dying. I realize now just how obstinate and stubborn I was. Those qualities have helped me in life in a lot of ways – you never give up. But it almost killed me, too.”
November 2017 eNews
Meet Linda Abbott
During Linda Abbott’s time at Ohio State, her love for music drove her to become heavily involved in the university choir.
While Abbott ’70 still enjoys singing, she now uses her voice for a different reason — to be a leader in advancing the most critical research and outreach projects happening at Ohio State as a co-chair of Women & Philanthropy.
It was only a matter of time before Abbott, a legacy President’s Club donor with a passion for making a difference, heard about Women & Philanthropy. Abbott said a good friend of hers recommended the organization to her and, as she learned more about it, she became increasingly interested.
Women & Philanthropy is an organization that brings women of all ages together for one common goal: to invest in the people of Ohio State. Since its start in 2006, Women & Philanthropy has collectively awarded 50 grants to the transformational work at Ohio State, totaling an investment of over $1.3 million.
“I just think for a university our size, it is good to have women to have that kind of impact on Ohio State,” Abbott said. “It’s just a (way of) networking with other women about things that are important to us that we otherwise would not have.”
The organization meets three times a year to hear presentations from campus groups seeking grants to pursue their mission of helping others. The groups change every year and represent a wide variety of service, from patient care and medical research to environmental protection projects and education programs, Abbott said.
“It’s very exciting to continue to find out what’s going on at Ohio State, and the fact that we get to use our money toward something that we are passionate about or that we’re interested in…is highly appealing to me,” Abbott said. “Women & Philanthropy, 100 percent of it goes toward where you want it to be directed, which is highly unusual, so I am very excited about that.”
Abbott said, for her, it’s all about the need.
“I’m looking for a need that we can meet, or help to meet,” Abbott said. “We are helping research to continue that might not otherwise. We know we’re making a difference.”
Last year, among the programs receiving funding was Shakespeare and Autism, a project that seeks to assess how a partnership between the Ohio State Nisonger Center and the Department of Theater helps children with autism break through communication and social barriers. Women & Philanthropy also supported WOSU Columbus Neighborhoods and the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center.
The giving is far from over, Abbott said, as Women & Philanthropy is continuously growing and gaining new members.
“This year in particular we have gotten so many new, young women involved, and that’s just so healthy,” Abbott said.
October 2017 eNews
Meet Jaye McCain
Jaye and Ross McCain could have crossed paths several times in their hometown of Lima, but it was an unexpected meeting in Columbus that changed their lives. Their chance encounter at Ohio State turned into a marriage and a lifetime together. After Ross passed away suddenly in 2014, Jaye decided to honor him in a way that was meaningful to both of them. She established The Ross McCain Scholarship Fund to benefit students pursuing a business degree at Ohio State Lima, with preference for students from Allen and Auglaize counties.
“I just have a love for Ohio State Lima, and my husband did as well,” Jaye said. “He was always about education and helping kids who needed an extra start in life.”
Both Ross and Jaye grew up in Lima. He went to public school, she went to Catholic. After Ross graduated in 1969, he enrolled at Ohio State Lima. He always said he couldn’t have gone to college were it not for his hometown campus.
Jaye also attended Ohio State Lima, but only for a quarter. She transferred to Ohio State’s main campus, and a few months later, so did Ross. One day in 1973, he appeared at her door to ask her roommate on a date, but the roommate wasn’t home. Jaye and Ross began dating soon after and were married within a year.
After graduation, Ross joined Edward Jones as a financial advisor, and a few years later, Jaye joined him. Three decades later, they both retired.
“I always said, ‘If we hadn’t gone to college, what would we have done?’” Jaye said. “It meant a better life, absolutely.”
Over the years, Jaye and Ross became staunch advocates for Ohio State Lima, working to establish a business degree at the campus and co-chairing a capital campaign for a student life building. They would fiercely defend the Lima campus to anyone who dismissed it as a branch.
“I think it’s a hidden gem for our community,” Jaye said. “It’s a great opportunity for local students who have some financial need or need some loving care that first year.”
To date, The Ross McCain Scholarship Fund has helped three students. “It’s not a huge amount, but I hope to increase it over time,” Jaye said.
She views her contribution as a tribute to her husband as well as an investment in a student who needs the extra support. “If we can help to open a door for a career, for a lifetime – especially for a person who is struggling – I think that’s a great gift you can give to a young person,” she said.
September 2017 eNews
Marion Native Brings Success Home
If you’ve ever shopped in a dollar store and visited the cosmetics and over-the-counter pharmaceutical display, you’ve likely encountered the work of Buckeye marketer Dennis Jesse.
Jesse, a President’s Club donor since 2009 and a 1984 graduate of what is known today as the Fisher College of Business, owns and operates Jesse Marketing Associates, Ltd. The company specializes in developing marketing strategies and products for the cosmetics sections of the Every Day Low Price retailing segment.
The Marion Pleasant High School graduate credits Ohio State’s business college with forever tying his life to cosmetics. Growing up playing high school sports and caddying at the Marion Country Club – where he carried bags for the likes of Bob Hope and former Buckeye George Alber, a major supporter of Ohio State Marion – Jesse had his heart set on working for a big sporting goods company.
“I had no idea what mascara was,” he said.
But shortly after he graduated, someone from Ohio State’s business school called him on a Friday afternoon and asked if he’d be willing to interview with a marketing company working with the college.
“I had no idea who they were,” he said. “I went in blind.”
The phone interview went well. That Sunday night, the newly minted Buckeye alum received a call from what turned out to be a cosmetics company offering him a job — as long as he could start the next morning in Washington D.C.
After putting Jesse’s three brothers and one sister through college and moving them out of the family home, David Jesse was ready to empty his nest. During that Sunday night phone call, Jesse recalled, “my dad was in the background yelling, ‘Heck yes, he’ll take it!’”
At 7:30 Monday morning, Jesse was on a flight to Washington. He’s been in consumer products ever since.
Jesse’s first gift back to his alma mater was $50 three years after he graduated from Ohio State. His latest, with wife Sheri, will put the Jesse name on an office in Ohio State Marion’s new science and engineering building — a move that he hopes will bring the promise of a brighter future to his hometown.
“I know Marion has gone through some tough times, but I see things coming back — I see people getting excited about Marion again,” he said. “So, from someone who grew up there, and to give back to that community, it makes a person like me feel good that, indeed, something positive is happening in that city.”
August 2017 eNews
Changing lives through the President’s Club Scholarship
Ben Hood embodies Ohio State’s “pay forward” spirit. Now a third-year neuroscience major, he has been a voracious learner and committed volunteer since he was a young teen growing up in Marlton, New Jersey. Thanks to the President’s Club Scholarship, Ben didn’t have to choose between academics and service when he came to Ohio State.
“I have many diverse interests and am grateful that I have been able to pursue all of them. I am tremendously thankful for this support, because without it, I don’t think this would have been possible.”
Ben’s passion for service began a decade ago with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, where he has raised more than $3,500 and counting for childhood cancer research. Since moving to Columbus, he joined the Theatre Arts Group, an afterschool program that helps high school students write and perform their own plays. He also assists ex-offenders in finding steady and meaningful employment through his role as Vice President of Technology for PassGo. A university-led initiative, PassGo works with central Ohio organizations to connect restored citizens with training and employment opportunities, and fight recidivism in Ohio.
In summer 2016, Ben traveled to Trim, County Meath, Ireland, where he spent a month immersed in the study of medieval history and archeology. After returning for his junior year at Ohio State, he added to his busy calendar a research position with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He is currently studying potential gene therapies for muscular dystrophy.
“The President’s Club Scholarship allows me to think beyond my four years as an undergraduate student. It allows me to gain vital experience that will prepare me for a life of service after graduation.”
Ben plans to graduate in May 2018 and hopes to pursue medical school with a specialization in pediatric neurology or neuroprosthetics.