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Oberndorf Family Foundation to Receive Alliance for Educational Excellence Award

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JACKSON, MS –The Oberndorf Family Foundation has been selected to receive the 2014 Alliance for Educational Excellence Award, presented by Phi Theta Kappa to organizations providing exceptional support for higher education. The award will be presented during Phi Theta Kappa's Annual Convention, April 24-26, 2014, in Orlando.

Lou and Rosemary Oberndorf

In 2001, Phi Theta Kappa, Phi Beta Kappa, and the National Honor Society launched an initiative, The Alliance for Educational Excellence, to promote broad-based excellence in learning at all levels of education. Phi Theta Kappa has assumed the leadership role for this initiative, which now includes many international and national education-based organizations.

Phi Theta Kappa’s Executive Director and CEO Dr. Rod Risley said the award is being presented in recognition of the Oberndorf Family Foundation’s generosity in helping students complete a college credential.   

The Oberndorf Family Foundation formed a relationship with Phi Theta Kappa when Lou Oberndorf — then CEO of METI, a world leader in medical education technology whose products are used in many community colleges as well as in the world’s leading medical schools — joined with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to establish a scholarship for community college students in health care fields in memory of his friend and mentor, Frank Lanza. Phi Theta Kappa was approached to administer the scholarship, and a total of $200,000 in Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarships has been given since 2011.

Lou and his wife, Rosemary, challenged Phi Theta Kappa Foundation to raise $125,000, to be matched one to one by their Foundation to establish the “Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship.” When Phi Theta Kappa successfully earned the match in 2012, the Oberndorfs then challenged the Society to a second one-to-one match to raise an additional $125,000 to establish a $500,000 endowment for the scholarship program. Each year Phi Theta Kappa members who have faced financial barriers to completing a degree are selected to receive $1,000 Oberndorf Scholarships. Since Phi Theta Kappa began selecting Oberndorf Scholars in 2013, $20,000 in scholarships has been presented to students at risk of dropping out due to hardship.

“Without a doubt the Oberndorf Family Foundation has made a huge impact on the challenge of college completion with their matching gifts to fully endow the Lifeline to Completion Scholarship,” said Phi Theta Kappa Foundation CEO Dr. Nancy Rieves. “In addition, by serving as a Trustee for the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, Lou has shown his passionate commitment to community college student success. We are very grateful to Lou and Rosemary for their generous support.”

Past recipients of the Alliance for Educational Excellence Award have included USA TODAY for its 20 years of support for the All-USA Community College Academic Team; the Coca-Cola Foundation and Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation for their support of the New Century Scholars Program, Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program, and Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program; the American Association of Community Colleges for their support and engagement with Phi Theta Kappa spanning several decades; the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for their efforts in raising the issue of equity with regard to selective senior colleges admitting community college transfer students; and the Hites Family Community College Scholarship Foundation for their contribution of over $2 million for the establishment of an endowment for Phi Theta Kappa transfer scholarships.                  

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, Peru, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. More than 2.5 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 135,000 students inducted annually.