Ohio State donors break records, fund groundbreaking work

September 5, 2011

President Gee (top right) expresses gratitude for donors to Ohio State such as Jodi and Stan Ross (above), whose support assists Dr. Ali Rezai (top left) at the university's Department of Neurology.

A record 177,322 donors gave an unprecedented $259 million in private gifts and grants during fiscal year 2011 in support of the people and programs of The Ohio State University. In the period ending June 30, 2011, total fund-raising activity including new gifts and expectancies topped $407.6 million, also a record number.

“This rise in donors, especially during a turbulent economy, is a tremendous statement of confidence in Ohio State,” said Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee. “Our supporters make possible remarkable advances in patient care, allow us to deepen the university’s impact as an economic engine for the state, ensure the university’s ability to attract and retain preeminent faculty, and, of course, provide incalculable opportunities for our students to gain footing in the global knowledge economy.”

Contributing to this year’s total was the largest gift in Ohio State history—$100 million from Ohio State alumnus and Board of Trustees Chairman Leslie Wexner and the Limited Brands Foundation—in support of The Ohio State University Medical Center and The Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. This gift will also benefit Ohio State’s Wexner Center for the Arts and select other university initiatives. Additional increases in fund raising came from donors to the university-wide Students First, Students Now scholarship initiative, which surpassed its $100 million goal by $14 million. Students First, Students Now was implemented on January 1, 2009, and concluded on June 30, 2011.

Ohio State awards $1 billion in student financial aid each year, which includes scholarships, loans, work-study, Pell grants, graduate assistantships, and other forms of student support. Ohio State’s financial aid program is the largest in the country, and represents nearly a fifth of the university’s budget.

There were many reasons cited by those individuals who increased their giving or became first-time donors over the last year, including a strong belief in the mission of Ohio State, anticipation of reductions in state support, and a desire to support leading-edge medical advancement and improve economic support for students.

Jodi and Stan Ross are two of those people.

“Stan and Jodi are incredible university partners,” said Jeff Kaplan, president of The Ohio State University Foundation, senior vice president and special assistant to the president. “They have an innate understanding of philanthropy as a change agent, as well as a tremendous empathetic perspective, using their own experiences as a springboard to action.”

“We first got interested in The Ohio State University Department of Neurology after our son was treated there after being in a racecar accident in 1993, and have been supporters ever since,” said retired attorney Stan Ross. “After meeting Dr. Ali Rezai, we knew straight away that he is a very impressive person doing very impressive things.”

Dr. Rezai, a pioneer in deep brain stimulation, or “neuromodulation,” holds the Julius F. Stone Endowed Chair and is the Director of the Center for Neuromodulation. He and his team use neurological pacemakers that deliver electrical signals to the nervous system to alleviate symptoms of conditions that result in chronic physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive impairment in patients and cause great stress to families and society.

Patients suffering from Parkinson’s, tremors, epilepsy, chronic pain, and obsessive-compulsive disorder have benefitted from neuromodulation. Dr. Rezai and his team are also collaborating with various Ohio State specialists to develop innovative brain pacemaker treatment approaches for patients with severe and disabling depression, traumatic brain injury, addiction, obesity, Alzheimer’s, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other neurological disorders.

“Historically, it’s difficult to obtain federal funding for new clinical trial innovations like neuromodulation, so donor support is critical to helping us advance the field,” said Dr. Rezai. “Donors provide seeds to fund pilot trials that can grow into larger grants from the National Institutes of Health and other sources.”

The Rosses have discovered that by giving to Ohio State, they make a difference in many lives. “Dr. Rezai is a terrific guy as an individual, but his work is the tipping point. He and his team have made incredible strides and have alleviated a lot of suffering, and we are very happy to support that,” said Ross.

Find out more about deep brain stimulation at The Ohio State University Medical Center and the benefits to patients.

Quick Fundraising Facts:

FY 2011 private donor total:

FY 2011 private gifts and grants:
$259 million

FY 2011 private gifts, grants, and expectancies: $407.6 Million

FY 2011: University receives largest gift in its history—$100 million from Les Wexner and the Limited Brands Foundation

Total raised (1/1/09 through 6/30/11) through Students First, Students Now:
$114 million (114% of goal)