Imagine if someone said to you, “Let’s pick a remote rural community and provide funds so that most of the youth in that community can go to college and let’s do it every year for a hundred years, then go back and see what happened.” Wouldn’t that be a great test of the impacts of investment in higher education?
I first learned about the Daly Fund from my friend and OSU colleague, Dan Dunham, who grew up in Lakeview and was a Daly Fund scholarship recipient. Dan’s story stuck with me and over the years I met a surprising number of people from Lakeview, a small remote town of about 2,500 in south central Oregon. And then, when our college did a newsletter profile of three sisters (Sue Ogle Densmore, Martha Ogle Powell, Sara Lea Ogle) all of whom received the scholarship and went to OSU, I began to think about a research project that would study the long-term impact of the Daly Fund — a natural experiment just waiting to be studied.
But, the research would need to wait about thirty years till I was close to retirement. As I neared the end of my time as dean of the OSU College of Education, I went to Lakeview and met with Jim Lynch, the long-time secretary of the Daly Fund Trustees, and then with several of the trustees and scholarship recipients — I was hooked. Since that visit I’ve been on a journey of discovery, learning about the remarkable life of Bernard Daly, the many people who were impacted by scholarship he created, and Lake County, the place where it all started.
In 2016, after 35 years at OSU, I retired and in retirement I’ve combined my love of long distance biking with research on the Daly Fund. During the summer of 2016, I rode my bike across the country, starting in Florence, Oregon and finishing on the coast of North Carolina three months and 4,681 miles later. I arrived in Lakeview in time to attend the annual Daly Trustee meeting and then rode across the country stopping to visit with Daly Fund scholarship recipients along the way.