Donor support for scholarships, experiential learning, new programming and curriculum development has never been more important to the success of the Honors College. The economic challenges of the past months have made external funding even more critical for student success and retention, and Honors College supporters have risen to the occasion.
Fundraising for honors has reached unprecedented levels, surpassing $1.5 million in the 2020 fiscal year — $400,000 more than the previous three years combined — with the first half of 2021 on pace to match. Leading the way are a group of “Honors College Champions,” donors giving $100,000 or more to the college.
“The Honors College Champions are completely reshaping our future as a college and expanding our sense of what is possible,” says Dean Toni Doolen. “Never before have we seen giving at this level, and the leadership, commitment and vision of our champions is setting the college up to be a true model of innovative and inclusive excellence in honors education at public universities.”
The seven current Honors College Champions, six couples and one anonymous donor, represent a range of backgrounds and connections to the college. They include parents of current and past students, faculty members and others with long histories of engagement with honors. All have signed on in part to inspire others to step forward and support the college and its students.
“We want the Honors College to have the resources that it needs to educate young people as well as possible — providing research opportunities, small classes and other attributes of a first-rate education,” explain Carol and Rich Pickard, one of the champion couples.
Support has also come from throughout the Honors College community. In response to an urgent call for emergency donations in the spring of 2020, alumni and other donors contributed $23,911 toward student support. This was the fifth highest total among colleges at Oregon State University, despite honors having the fewest overall number of alumni.
“Everyone in the college is so inspired by the compassion our community has shown and by the belief they’ve expressed in the Honors College’s mission and honors students,” Doolen says. “As successful as our first 25 years as a college have been, we are poised to reach even greater heights in the next 25.”
Meet the Honors College Champions
Kevin Ahern and Indira Rajagopal were longtime teachers and mentors in the Honors College until their retirement in 2018. They also served on the Honors College Board of Regents, the college’s leadership external advisory group, and as co-associate deans. Their Honors College Champion gift will support scholarships for Honors College students.
Michael and Janice Burgett have created a new recruitment scholarship in the Honors College. Mike, an emeritus faculty member in horticulture, has taught his class Far Side Entomology in the Honors College since its founding in 1995, and it has become one of the most famous — and beloved — classes in the honors curriculum.
Ken and Paula Krane created a scholarship several years ago to support students pursuing experiential learning opportunities. Their Honors College Champion gift will provide additional resources for this fund. Ken is an emeritus professor of physics and was chair of the faculty senate committee that created the Honors College in 1995. He is also a member of the Honors College Board of Regents.
Carol and Rich Pickard have created a new scholarship that will help students pay the differential tuition associated with enrollment in the Honors College. Carol graduated from Oregon State in 1976 with a B.S. in clothing textiles and related arts, and she served on the Honors College Board of Regents for 11 years. She is now on the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees.
Patrick and Vicki Stone are parents of an Honors College student and have hosted engagement and outreach events for the college. They have created a new scholarship that will recruit 10 outstanding students, each representing an undergraduate academic college at Oregon State. The scholarship will provide four years of funding, as well as support for experiential learning.
Wayne and Marta von Borstel are parents of two Honors College graduates, who both completed their degrees in 2006. They created the largest scholarship offered by the Honors College and have supported students from Eastern Oregon, particularly The Dalles. Their Honors College Champion gift supports the Wayne and Marta von Borstel Honors College Scholarship.
By: Christopher McCracken