Under Friday night lights, homecoming crowd cheers on kickoff of BGSU fundraising campaign

Student Jauntez Bates speaks during opening program.

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

Under the lights Friday night, President Mary Ellen Mazey summoned up her former cheerleader self to whip up support for Bowling Green State University’s comprehensive campaign, “Changing Lives for the World.”

Always a booster of the university she leads, Mazey turned her enthusiasm up a notch addressing a Homecoming Weekend crowd gathered to mark the kickoff of the public portion of the $200 million campaign.

Homecoming crowd gathers outside University Hall.

Mazey said given the good start she envisions the campaign topping the official goal, maybe raising as much as $250 million.

Since the campaign was announced in spring, 2014, the university has raised $110 million in “leadership giving.” Now the university is ready to get the public engaged in the effort.

The money will be used for facilities, scholarships as well as named professorships and academic programs.

Mazey noted that BGSU is one of the very few colleges in Ohio that doesn’t have a named college. She’d like to see two by the time the campaign wraps up in 2020.

Mazey said she and many others in attendance benefited from scholarships when they were students, and now it is time to return the favor.

Two students who have benefited from those scholarships testified to their importance.

Meg Burrell, former student representative on the Board of Trustees, talked about how she fell in love with BGSU.

She arrived for her tour during “the worst weather,” but the tour went great.  It was her first one, and she felt this augured well for the rest. Yet 14 tours later, “I had not found another BGSU.”

Receiving Presidential Leadership Scholar made her decision to become a Falcon easy.

When Burrell arrived, she missed early activities on campus because she was working. “I realized this was not the kind of experience I wanted. I knew I was going to take advantage of any opportunity I could.”

Though Burrell still worked two part-time jobs, she knew she could take time off for mock trial or other activities because she’d have the resources thanks to donors.

Music students Jeff Bouck, on bass, and David Mirarchi, on alto saxophone, entertain inside University Hall.

Burrell said she looks forward to the time when she can join the ranks of BGSU alumni giving back to the university.

Jauntez Bates, vice president of undergraduate student government, also a member of President’s Leadership Academy. Getting the scholarship “meant the world to me,” he said. “I didn’t know I would be able to do the things I’m doing now.”

Bates, the child of a single mother, is from Detroit. He said he did not excel as a student, still a Thompson Scholarship allowed him to BGSU where he has excelled, and has his sights set on law school.

He founded BossUpClothing, a company that mixes commerce with philanthropy.

Bates said that the help from donors amounts to more than dollars. Conversations are an invaluable currency, he said. Not all students have the mentors they need to help them succeed

One of those donors, Paul Hooker, an entrepreneur who graduated in the class of 1975, has funded four full-ride scholarships. Every time he comes back to Bowling Green he makes a point of meeting with the recipients. He’s proud of their accomplishments, and gratified in the knowledge that he helped “these human beings the chance to go to college.”

Hooker and his wife, Margo, have donated to many campaigns, including to the Maurer Center which will be the new home of the College of Business. The College of Business, he said, was “brand spanking new” when he was on campus.

Reception inside University Hall.

“I know we’re losing students to other universities that have state of the art facilities.” The Hookers have already donated a student lounge in the Maurer Center named after his late aunt. But Hooker, who has guest taught in Gene Poor’s entrepreneurship class, knew more needed to be done. So the Hookers will fund one of the academic centers in the college.

Larry Benz, a 1984 graduate who chairs the campaign, closed out opening program with his own announcement. He will endow a professorship in the College of Health and Human Services.

Endowed professorships, he said, help retain top talent and that in turn helps “change students’ lives.”

Afterward, attendees were invited to tour the newly renovated University and Moseley halls, and learn more about the campaign.

Mazey reminded them that they could have a space in those buildings or others around campus named for them.

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