Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees member Nicholas “Nick” E. Calio ’75 recalls his first visit to the campus as a senior in high school when he was being recruited by Bishops football coach Jack Fouts ’48. “I fell in love with the campus and the people were so nice,” he says, but being the first in his family to attend college, financial aid was going to be deciding factor.
Eighteen-year-old Calio was crestfallen to learn OWU did not offer athletic scholarships, but Fouts sent Calio to speak with Fred Pollock ’50, then head of financial aid. Pollack told the young man from Cleveland that if he wanted to come to OWU, the school would find a way. Calio applied and was granted academic scholarships and on-campus jobs in a dining hall and as a security guard to help him through school.
“The man told me, ‘You can pay what you can afford, but when you’re here, we want you to feel like any other student,’” Calio recalls. “Ohio Wesleyan did everything it could for me, and I’ve never forgotten that.”
Today Calio and his wife, Lydia ’77, serve on the Campaign Leadership Committee of Ohio Wesleyan’s Connect Today, Create Tomorrow Campaign and have committed a $600,000 gift to fulfill that same dream for other students. The Calios’ commitment is the first donation recorded in response to Ohio Wesleyan’s major gift-match program, and benefits the annual fund, supports the President’s Circle, and creates a new endowed student scholarship.
When describing their commitment to fellow trustees at a board meeting, Nick gave an emotional testimony, saying, “This gift is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done in my life. It really feels good.”
Nick emphasizes that the theory-to-practice grants and The OWU Connection offer students, especially those “who were like me, a major opportunity for a solid grounding with their education and the ability to apply it to their lives so they can go on to be leaders and do good things.”
During their years at Ohio Wesleyan, Nick, an English major, and Lydia, an English and Fine Arts major, studied abroad for one semester in England. “It was one of the most meaningful experiences I had, and I realized just how much it can change a student’s life,” Lydia says.
Nick went on to receive a law degree at Case Western Reserve University, and was in private practice before he worked at the White House, once as assistant to the president for legislative affairs for President George H.W. Bush, and later as President George W. Bush’s principal liaison to Congress. He is now president and CEO of Airlines for America, an industry trade group.
“We really believe in where the school is heading, especially under Rock’s leadership,” Lydia says, citing the college’s global experience and “solid liberal arts education.”
“That’s why we gave the scholarship,” says Nick. “We believe in what the campaign leadership is doing, what the school is doing, and we want to be a part of it.
“We’ve always been active in our giving because Ohio Wesleyan gave us a lot.”