Jackson, MS – Phi Theta Kappa Foundation Trustee Ray Hites, who helped establish the Hites Transfer Scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa members, died in Savannah, Georgia, on February 18.
“Ray will be missed tremendously. He loved serving as a trustee, never missed a meeting, and cherished the opportunity to meet the Hites Scholars at Phi Theta Kappa’s Annual Convention,” said Phi Theta Kappa Foundation CEO Dr. Nancy Rieves. “The students loved visiting with him and would gather at the front of the room after a general session to say thank you to him and his wife, Jackie, for making Hites Scholarships possible for Phi Theta Kappa members.”
Each year 10 members are selected as Hites Scholars and receive scholarships of $7,500 each. Providing a total of $75,000 in scholarships annually, the Hites Scholarship program is Phi Theta Kappa’s largest.
In 2007 the Hites Family Community College Scholarship Foundation challenged the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation to raise $350,000, which would be matched almost 2-1 by the Hites Foundation to create a $1 million scholarship endowment. The Foundation announced in 2009 that the challenge had been met and exceeded. The Hites Foundation then issued another equally successful challenge to create an endowment of over $2 million to provide transfer scholarships for Phi Theta Kappa members.
The Hites Foundation was established by the brother of Ray Hites, the late Robert Hites, an executive with Ralston-Purina in St. Louis, Missouri. Upon his retirement, he fulfilled a lifelong dream and became an instructor at St. Louis Community College, where he valued the educational experience offered by community colleges and witnessed the determination and will to succeed of his students.
As paperwork became more cumbersome, Hites Foundation Chair Ray Hites and the other board members were seeking a partner to take on the scholarship selection and distribution process.
Hites had said that it was amazing how the Hites Foundation and Phi Theta Kappa found each other and called the relationship “a perfect match.”
Fellow Foundation Trustees praised Hites as a remarkable individual who made an incredible impact on the lives of Phi Theta Kappa members.
“Ray was an inspiration to Rosemary and me. The Hites Scholarship was our model for the Oberndorf Completion Scholarship effort,” said fellow Foundation Trustee Lou Oberndorf.
Dr. Rod Risley, Phi Theta Kappa’s Executive Director and CEO, said, “Phi Theta Kappa has lost a dear friend, consummate gentleman, and legacy builder in Ray Hites. He leaves with us a legacy of leadership and philanthropy.”
Services for Ray Hites were held on Monday, February 23. The Hites family has requested memorial gifts be made to the Hites Scholarship Fund through the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation.
Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Jackie Hites in care of the Phi Theta Kappa Scholarships Department at 1625 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS 39211. All notes sent by March 6 will be forwarded to Mrs. Hites.
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.
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. More than 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.