Sunday, October 29, 2000
Dispatch Staff Reporter
For the second time in as many weeks, Denison University has received a record-shattering gift.
The founder of an Akron investment firm and his wife, Jim and Vanita Oelschlager, have given $15 million to the liberal-arts school in Granville, officials announced yesterday.
On Oct. 16, the Burton D. Morgan Foundation of Akron gave Denison and the College of Wooster separate $8 million grants, at the time the biggest for both schools.
"We're having a fantastic year,'' Denison spokesman Stewart B. Dyke said yesterday.
The Oelschlager money, by far the largest donation in Denison's 169-year history, will go toward construction of a life-science building, projected to open in 2003.
Mr. Oelschlager heads Oak Associates in Akron, an investment firm that oversees more than $30 billion in assets for private investors, foundations and universities, including Denison. A 1964 graduate of Denison, he has long been involved with his alma mater, serving as a career adviser, providing internships at his firm and establishing an annual-fund challenge grant three years ago that generated more than 1,500 new or increased gifts worth $426,000.
The Oelschlagers also gave $10 million to the University of Akron in June to establish a scholarship program for area students.
"Business Week recently characterized Jim Oelschlager and his firm as 'big picture' thinkers,'' Denison President Dale T. Knobel said, "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.''
Oelschlager said those who "enjoyed'' their days at Denison "should feel an obligation to give back to the school so that future generations can have a comparable experience.''
The philanthropist is active on the boards of the Akron City Hospital Foundation and the national Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. In 1973, Oelschlager learned he had the disease.
He and his wife also established the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Center for Child Advocacy at Akron's Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1998.
Knobel said Denison, a private, 2,000-student school roughly 25 miles east of Columbus, will incorporate the life-science building into the new Campus Quad. The area also will be flanked by the new Burton D. Morgan Center.
Knobel said Oelschlager has a legacy of service that was evident during his years as a student.
"Jim's dedication to such activities dates to his days at Denison, when
he was vice president of the Denison Community Association, which continues
to coordinate our student volunteer activities. Denison has been long-blessed
by the support of Jim and Vanita Oelschlager.''