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McDavis Donations

Reviewing Rod: Committed to OU

Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series analyzing President Roderick McDavis’ decade at Ohio University.

Ohio University President Roderick McDavis took office in 2004 on the heels of what he called “a very successful” Bicentennial Campaign, which raised about $221 million for the university. 

“We must continue to raise private funds,” McDavis said in his inaugural speech. 

The president and his wife, Deborah, have personally contributed more than $119,000 to that charge.

The majority of their gifts have gone to fund scholarship programs, specifically the Urban and Appalachian scholars programs, which both finance four-year renewable scholarships for one student each.

At one time, the Urban Scholars Program was supposed to sponsor 100 scholarships a year, though that goal was later lowered.

Others gifts from the McDavis family have gone toward athletics, Scripps College of Communications’ public TV and the Center for International Studies’ African-American Heritage Wall.

“Gifts from Deborah and me certainly stem from our love of Ohio University,” McDavis said in an email. “(We) know that our gifts will strengthen the transformative power of an Ohio University education, just as all gifts to Ohio University do.”

To date, more than $500 million has been raised during McDavis’ decade-long tenure at OU. But much of that money — about a third — is not in hand. And that money may not be received for up to 15 years, said Pam Dailey, OU’s records management senior specialist.

Nonetheless, McDavis estimates he spends about 40 percent of his time securing those pledges, which includes promoting the “principal gift-level prospects” for the Promise Lives Campaign.

By April 17, he had completed 34 visits for the 2013-14 academic year, according to his presidential self-assessment. He is aiming to complete 45 this academic year. 

He has been called “the quintessential fundraiser,” according to an external assessment conducted of the president in 2012. 

But others do the job as well. 

OU has a professional development staff “who reach out and speak to alumni around the country and sometimes even around the world,” Jennifer Bowie, executive director of communication and marketing for University Advancement, said.

They make calls, send mail and have face-to-face interaction with alumni and friends of the university, she said.

Alumni on the East Coast have used Boston Red Sox games, raffles and auctions of OU gear to raise money for the university, said Dave Abram, former regional chair for the New England region of the fundraising campaign. 

The chapter has held events specifically targeting donors, which are separate from alumni events held in the area.

The group raised about $18,000 for the chapter scholarship as a part of fundraising efforts, Abrams said.

The Promise Lives Campaign, which ends in 2015, aims to bring in $175 million to “access and opportunity,” meaning scholarships, training for staff and recruitment of faculty.

The campaign met its $450 million goal last spring, 14 months ahead of time.

The other four goals include research and creative activity, academic and student life, campus and outreach and partnerships.

“We have three or four colleges that have done very very well in the campaign,” McDavis said. “But it has been a university-wide effort.”

According to his most recent self assessment, McDavis is now working toward a new goal of $500 million for the fundraising campaign. 

“The bold and transformational gifts of our alumni and friends over the course of my presidency, along with every gift made since the university’s founding, are the legs of our vision,” McDavis said.


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