College Presidents Take Lead to Meet Oberndorf Scholarship Challenge

Jackson, MS – When Phi Theta Kappa partnered with the Oberndorf Family Foundation to endow a scholarship program for community college scholars in danger of dropping out due to financial difficulties, Foundation Trustee Dr. E. Ann McGee thought college presidents should take the lead in making the endowment a reality. And that’s exactly what they did.

Phi Theta Kappa members Juan Robayo and Crystal Williams are pictured with Dr. E. Ann McGee.

Phi Theta Kappa’s Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship helps Phi Theta Kappa members overcome unanticipated financial barriers preventing the completion of the first college credential, an associate degree or certificate, while enrolled in the two-year college. This scholarship was created through a collaborative effort between benefactors Rosemary and Lou Oberndorf, the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation and the 2011-2012 International Officers.

In 2011, the Oberndorf Family Foundation challenged the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation to raise $125,000 in order to receive a one-to-one challenge grant. When it was announced that the challenge was met at the 2012 Annual Convention, the Oberndorfs challenged the Foundation to raise another $125,000, which they matched one-to-one, resulting in a total $500,000 endowment for the Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship.

Dr. McGee, a Phi Theta Kappa alumna and president of Seminole College in Florida, challenged her fellow college presidents to raise $50,000 among themselves to help the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation reach the goal to receive matching funds from the Oberndorf Family Foundation and complete the endowment.

Together college presidents and leaders of organizations like the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community College Trustees, the Community College League of California and the Texas Association of Community Colleges raised more than $52,000 for the Oberndorf Challenge.

“What motivates college presidents and chancellors each and every day are the examples of student success that we are privileged to experience first-hand,” Dr. McGee said. “The outpouring of financial support from them – and from such agencies as AACC and ACCT – simply reinforces the recognition of the financial barriers that exist for our students and the desire to help.”

Dr. Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in California says she has seen students facing tremendous challenges on their road to college completion, including being homeless, living without running water and having to walk seven to 10 miles to attend school. They are the reasons she supports Phi Theta Kappa and its Foundation.

“Having worked for four colleges with Phi Theta Kappa chapters, I know its power as a campus touchstone for student engagement and for helping students stay in college and meet their goals,” Miles said.

For Alicia Diggs, an accounting major at Northeast Texas Community College, the Oberndorf Scholarship was truly a lifeline. She maintained a 3.9 grade point average while helping her 13-year-old son fight ossifying fibroma.

“I’ve spent many hours driving back and forth to doctors and tons of money on travel and medical expenses,” Diggs said. “But I feel life is like a deck of cards you are dealt. My cards haven’t been the greatest, but I play them to the best of my ability for my children and myself.”

With the help of the Oberndorf Scholarship, Diggs is on track to graduate in May. “I am excited to finish my degree and start a new career and life with my children,” she said. “I want to set an example for them that they can achieve their dreams through hard work, drive and being dependable.”

Phi Theta Kappa Foundation CEO Dr. Nancy Rieves said she was proud that community college leaders had stepped forward in overwhelming support of the Oberndorf Challenge to help students like Alicia. “We are so thankful to these individuals and organizations, and to Dr. McGee for taking the lead in this initiative,” she said. “Together with students, advisors and alumni, college administrators made this scholarship endowment possible.”

The Phi Theta Kappa Foundation is grateful to the following community college leaders and all those who donated to the Oberndorf Challenge:

  • Dr. Jeffery Allbritten
  • Dr. David Armstrong
  • Dr. Kenneth Atwater
  • Dr. William Austin
  • Dr. Daniel Bain
  • Dr. Cynthia S. Bambara
  • Dr. George Barnes
  • Dr. Walter C. Bartlett
  • Dr. and Mrs. Jack Becherer
  • Dr. Glenn Boyce
  • Dr. J. Noah Brown
  • Dr. Quintin Bullock
  • Dr. Walter Bumphus
  • Dr. Chris Bustamante
  • Dr. Michael R. Chipps
  • Dr. Gerardo de los Santos
  • Dr. Kevin Drumm
  • Dr. Carol Eaton
  • Dr. Martha Ellis
  • Dr. Kenneth Ender
  • Dr. J. Mark Estepp
  • Dr. Joe D. Forrester
  • Dr. Dennis P. Gallon
  • Dr. Rufus Glasper
  • Dr. Marie F. Gnage
  • Dr. Dennis Golladay
  • Dr. Jean Goodnow
  • Dr. Mary Graham
  • Dr. Fred L. Grogan
  • Dr. John Grosskopf
  • Dr. Charles Hall
  • Dr. Greg Hamann
  • Mr. Ty Handy
  • Dr. and Mrs. Wayne Hatcher
  • Dr. Carl Haynes
  • Dr. Brenda Hellyer
  • Dr. James Henningsen
  • Dr. Willis Holcombe
  • Dr. Eileen Holden
  • Dr. Jessica Howard
  • Dr. Murray K. Hoy
  • Dr. James Jacobs
  • Dr. and Ms. Alex Johnson
  • Dr. Katherine Johnson
  • Dr. Erma Johnson Hadley
  • Dr. Jane Karas
  • Mrs. Ellen Kennedy
  • Dr. Jana Kooi
  • Mr. Scott Lay
  • Dr. and Mrs. Terrence Leas
  • Dr. Thomas Leitzel
  • Dr. William Lewis
  • Dr. James J. Linksz
  • Dr. Edwin Massey
  • Ms. Susan May
  • Dr. E. Ann McGee
  • Dr. Ed Meadows
  • Dr. George Mihel
  • Dr. Cindy Miles
  • Dr. Charles Mojock
  • Dr. James Murdaugh
  • Dr. Timothy Nelson
  • Dr. Lawrence Nespoli
  • Dr. Wilfredo Nieves
  • Dr. Eloy Oakley
  • Dr. Eduardo Padron
  • Dr. Regina S. Peruggi
  • Drs. Adriana and Daniel Phelan
  • Dr. Joe Pickens
  • Dr. Paul Prestwich
  • Dr. Carol Probstfeld
  • Dr. Gene Prough
  • Dr. James L. Rasch
  • Dr. Shirley Reed
  • Dr. James Richey
  • Drs. Debra and Rod Risley
  • Dr. Jackson Sasser
  • Dr. Peter J. Sireno
  • Dr. Greg Smith
  • Dr. Jesse Smith
  • Dr. Carol Spalding
  • Dr. Mick Starcevich
  • Dr. Karen A. Stout
  • Dr. Lori Sundberg
  • Mr. and Mrs. Don Supalla
  • Dr. Dustin Swanger
  • Dr. Debbie Sydow
  • Dr. John J. Sygielski
  • Dr. John P. Tafaro
  • Mr. Ricardo Torres
  • Dr. Cliff Wood
  • Dr. Betty Young

The Phi Theta Kappa Foundation is focused on long-term financial stability for Phi Theta Kappa. It is dependent upon the generosity of individuals, organizations, foundations and corporations to ensure its future through the support of existing and the establishment of new endowment funds. For more information on how to contribute to scholarships for Phi Theta Kappa members through the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, contact Dr. Rieves at 800.946.9995, ext. 3537

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, plus 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. Nearly 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 131,000 students inducted annually.

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