Akron Denison Alumnus & Wife Commit $15 Million For Campus Improvements
Posted: October 29, 2000
A 1964 Denison alumnus from Akron and his wife, Jim and Vanita Oelschlager, have committed $15 million to the University. Their gift will make possible the construction of a new life science building projected to open in 2003. The Oelschlager gift is the largest single gift in Denison's 169-year history.
Oelschlager is president and chief investment officer of Oak Associates in Akron, a highly successful investment firm that oversees more than $30 billion in assets as a manager of investment accounts for foundations, universities (including Denison) and individuals.
The new facility and related structures will complete a new "Campus Quad" at Denison that will likely include not only the new life science building but also other components included in the University's master plan, subject to final trustee approval.
"Denison has been long-blessed by the support of Jim and Vanita Oelschlager," said University President Dale T. Knobel in announcing the gift, noting that the couple had not only a distinguished history of involvement and support of the college, but also with other philanthropic and community service activities in Ohio and the nation.
Earlier this year the couple donated $10 million for a new science building at Mount Union College, Mrs. Oelschlager's alma mater, and $10 million for scholarships at the University of Akron.
"Those of us who enjoyed our Denison experience," said Jim Oelschlager, "should feel an obligation to give back to the school so that future generations can have a comparable experience."
Oelschlager has been active on the boards of the Akron City Hospital Foundation and the national Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. (He was diagnosed with MS in 1973.) In addition, the couple have been strong advocates of children's health programs, and their leadership led to the establishment of the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Center for Child Advocacy at Akron's Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1998. The center focuses on meeting the needs of children at risk and includes programs in violence and injury prevention, uninsured health services, health education and promotion, and community collaboration and parental assistance.
In his support of higher education and Denison, Oelschlager has served his alma mater as a career advisor, provided a number of internship opportunities at Oak Associates for Denison students, and established an Annual Fund challenge grant in 1997-98 that saw more than 1,500 new or increased gifts totaling some $426,000. In addition, Oak Associates sponsors and funds a 14-college investment club competition, culminating in an annual awards banquet for the winning teams. The couple also established the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Fund for the Teaching of Economics at Denison.
"Business Week recently (Oct. 23, 2000) characterized Jim Oelschlager and his firm as 'big picture' thinkers," said Knobel, "and Denison couldn't be prouder of the accomplishments and generosity of such a stellar liberal arts graduate who gives back to his community and college."
Denison's plans for the new life science building are in the earliest stages, Knobel explained, following a University-commissioned long-range master plan by the Cambridge, Mass., architectural firm of Graham Gund Architects, Inc. That plan calls for a new "Campus Quad" to be flanked by the recently announced $8- million Burton D. Morgan Center (to the east) and the new life science structure to the west, behind and perpendicular to Higley Hall (the current life science building).
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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