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Sunday, October 16,2011

Huge OU gift gets bigger still

The groundbreaking 2008 estate bequest of $95 million to Ohio University's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology has yielded an additional $29 million, thanks to a high-tech engineering and manufacturing company's recent acquisition, according to a news release.

The Russ Gift — the largest charitable donation to any public engineering college in the United States according to the release — included shares of YSI, Inc. A leading developer and manufacturer of sensors, instruments, software, and data collection platforms for environmental water monitoring, YSI was recently acquired by ITT — bringing the total received from the Russes from $95 million to $124 million.

According to the release, Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin says that a part of him wasn't surprised when he learned the news.

"This is yet another outstanding example of Fritz's foresight in engineering and technology applications, because Fritz likely invested in YSI in the 1950s," Irwin said in the release. "It's incredibly humbling to realize how much Fritz and Dolores trusted in, and believed in the promise of, the students, faculty and staff of the Russ College to have chosen us for this legacy."

The Russes' first gift to Ohio University was in 1962, for $25. They are the top historical donors at OU, with more than $132 million in lifetime giving, according to the release. Endowments established through the Russes' giving have provided approximately $2.5 million in funds for the Russ College each year. With the addition of these new funds, this annual spending allocation will grow to more than $4 million, according to the release.

In response to the 2008 gift, McDavis, Irwin, and Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit convened engineering and technology leaders to advise on strategic areas of investment and develop a long-term plan.

The Russ Vision Plan focuses investments in four areas — students, faculty, physical infrastructure and personnel and prominence. Implementation across these areas has already reaped benefits with new scholarships, professorships, faculty support and improved teaching, according to the release.


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