Coffee and a donut. Simon and Garfunkel. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Some things work best in pairs.
For Evan Corns ’59, the winning combination is the Ohio Wesleyan Fund and the President’s Circle. “If you can support both, you should,” he says. “It’s a dynamic one-two punch for OWU.”
The President’s Circle is a select group of alumni, parents, and friends who focus on strategic initiatives selected by the president. President’s Circle members commit to investing $10,000 a year beyond their gifts to the Ohio Wesleyan Fund and other programs they may support.
In 2008, Evan Corns and Mark Shipps ’70, who was then vice president of university relations, formed the President’s Circle. “The idea was to provide the president with out-of-pocket funds to further the cause of Ohio Wesleyan in whatever way he felt best,” Corns recalls.
Since then, the President’s Circle has packed a powerful punch for OWU, often in critical, behind-the-scenes work. “The President’s Circle provided the seed funding for the OWU Connection, which is now the signature program that defines the experience of every student,” says President Rock Jones. “We have secured close to $20 million in endowments to support the OWU Connection, and this would not have happened without the President’s Circle.”
In other strategic work, the President’s Circle funded studies leading to the residential renewal. Today, two-thirds of OWU students living on campus reside in housing built or renovated within the last decade.
“Members of the President’s Circle are passionate about Ohio Wesleyan, care deeply for the experience of our students, and recognize the importance of new initiatives that advance the mission of OWU,” says Jones. “They’re curious about what’s happening on campus and asking great questions related to all aspects of the Ohio Wesleyan experience.”
The impact of an OWU experience inspires President’s Circle members Kate Raulin Carney ’12 and Tim Carney ’12 to stay connected with Ohio Wesleyan. “So much of where we are in our lives can be attributed and traced back to our OWU experience, from the people closest to us to the opportunities we have pursued in our careers,” says Tim. “We see our investment not only as a responsibility to give back, but also as a gift to contribute meaningfully to ensure the opportunities an OWU education can bring are available to others.”
President’s Circle members are among the most loyal Ohio Wesleyan donors, and their impact extends beyond their philanthropy. “Members of the President’s Circle have provided seed funding for so many important initiatives over the past 15 years,” Jones says. “They’ve also provided valuable wisdom and counsel for me.”
Kate and Tim Carney hope donors consider joining the President’s Circle to enhance future work. “The president has the privilege of having the bird’s-eye view of what is happening and where the university needs to go,” Kate says. “This pool of discretionary funds is crucial to provide the president the ability to ensure OWU can adapt quickly to meet the ever-evolving needs and pressures placed on higher education so OWU can meet the needs of its students.”
“I feel very strongly that the president of Ohio Wesleyan should have access to this type of funding,” says Corns. “If we have the confidence to hire a president, we should have the confidence in their ability to designate funding where it is needed.”
– Ericka Kurtz