Ohio University alum Violet Patton, who celebrates her 103rd birthday today (Aug. 30), recently increased her already significant gift commitment to the Ohio University Foundation to a total of $64 million, according to an OU news release.
Dr. Patton, who received her bachelor’s degree in education in 1938 and was presented with an honorary doctor of letters from OU in 2011, made a historic commitment to the university in 2010 when she committed $13.3 million that will establish the Violet L. Patton Center for Arts Education. A few weeks later, she committed an additional $28 million to honor her parents Gladys W. and David H. Patton with the naming of the Patton College of Education.
According to the release, “The impact of her generosity is evident on the Athens Campus in the Patton College’s transformational building renovation, which was completed in 2017.”
The additional $22 million gift commitment will support the capital projects for which Patton “has demonstrated unwavering commitment and passion for nearly a decade,” the release said, listing the Patton College’s facilities and the new Violet L. Patton Center for Arts Education.
“Dr. Patton’s generosity is truly overwhelming and humbling. Her gifts have transformed, and will continue to transform, arts and education at Ohio University,” OU President M. Duane Nellis said in the release. “The Violet L. Patton Center for Arts Education will be a jewel on our Arts Education Green, which will be on the east end of North Green and will encompass buildings that house music and dance, arts and education, and the new Patton Center. This vibrant green will serve as an entry point for campus and as a magnet for excellent students, faculty, and staff to embrace and experience the arts.”
Approximately 50 percent of Dr. Patton’s $64 million commitment will support the design, construction and furnishing of the new Patton Center, the release said, and approximately $27 million will support the Patton College of Education’s facilities. In addition, $5 million will be used to support the ongoing maintenance of both of these facilities.
Dr. Patton’s family instilled in her a commitment to education, according to the release. She was born in 1916 in Williamsburg, Ohio, and her parents were both educators. Her father, David Patton, worked as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in school systems across the nation.
While Dr. Patton followed in her parents’ footsteps with an interest in education, she also had a passion for art, the release said. Even before her OU graduation, she was pursuing these loves. In 1936, she illustrated a series of spelling books and in 1937 illustrated arithmetic textbooks. In her time as a teacher, she worked to revitalize and enhance education, specifically with arts education. She later shared that training with future educators as an assistant professor at Miami University of Ohio. After attending Columbia, Dr. Patton taught costuming and interior decorating at Rutgers, according to the release.
“We are so fortunate to have a benefactor like Violet Patton, who has a deep and abiding commitment to education and the arts – and to the facilities in which teaching and learning take place,” President Nellis said in the release. “This commitment has created a very tangible legacy for the Patton family, which will live on forever and will be known throughout the country.”