ACCT Supports Completion Challenge with Gift to Oberndorf Scholarships

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Jackson, MS – The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) recently made a donation of $5,000 to Phi Theta Kappa's Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship Fund as the Society's Foundation seeks to meet a second matching challenge to create a $500,000 endowment.

Dr. Rod Risley, ACCT Chair Roberto Uranga, Board Chair Kip Johnson

Dr. Rod Risley, ACCT Chair Roberto Uranga, Phi Theta Kappa Board Chair Kip Johnson

The new completion scholarship, established by Lou and Rosemary Oberndorf, will help students facing unanticipated financial barriers to stay in college and complete their degrees. The Oberndorf application will open to students this fall, offering $20,000 in scholarships to community college students at risk of dropping out.

"We want to help those students who are so close to completing a credential or degree to finish what they start and not stop out. Students who stop out rarely complete," said Phi Theta Kappa's Executive Director, Dr. Rod A. Risley. "With the help of supporters like ACCT we hope to make it possible for 40 students to receive up to $500 each for books, gas, daycare, tuition – whatever the proven need – to complete their degrees in the 2012-2013 academic year."

"The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is proud to support Phi Theta Kappa's Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship program," said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown. "This initiative will make a tremendous difference in the lives of students who are at risk of not completing their educations because of financial barriers. ACCT commends Phi Theta Kappa for the development of this much-needed scholarship program and congratulates the deserving students who will benefit from it."

Dr. Risley said the generous gift from ACCT capped off what has already been a stellar effort on their part toward the Community College Completion Challenge. This multi-organization effort was established after the leaders of Phi Theta Kappa, ACCT, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the League for Innovation in the Community College, the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE), and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) signed a historic "Call to Action" to engage all stakeholders in supporting community college completion.

During Phi Theta Kappa's Annual Convention in Nashville Board Chair Roberto Uranga accepted the 2012 Alliance for Educational Excellence Award on behalf of ACCT. The award is presented by Phi Theta Kappa to organizations providing exceptional support for higher education. ACCT was the first of six national partner organizations to organize a Community College Completion Summit to create a national awareness of the completion initiative and the degree of urgency with which it must be addressed.

"ACCT engaged community college trustees in discussing and developing strategies regarding their role and their institution's role in effectively measuring student success," Dr. Risley said. "Now we greatly appreciate their generous gift to the Oberndorf Challenge – it will help us make sure that as many community college students as possible are able to finish what they start."

Now retired, Lou Oberndorf was a founder of Medical Education Technologies, Inc. (METI), now CAE Healthcare. METI products are used in many community colleges, as well as in the world's leading medical schools and in some 5,000 organizations worldwide. As CEO of METI he was responsible for establishing the Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarships for community college students in health care fields. A total of $50,000 in Lanza Scholarships will be presented to community college students in 2012.The Oberndorfs issued the Completion Scholarship Matching Challenge in November 2011, offering to a one on one match if Phi Theta Kappa could raise $125,000.

During the Society's Annual Convention in Nashville alumnus and Washington D.C. attorney Everett "Kip" Johnson, and former American Association of Community Colleges President Dr. George Boggs, who serve as Chair and Vice Chair of Phi Theta Kappa's Board of Directors, announced that the $125,000 goal had been reached, establishing a $250,000 endowment. Lou and Rosemary Oberndorf then renewed the challenge for another one-to-one match, up to an additional $125,000, which will create a $500,000 endowment for the Lifeline to Completion Scholarship Program.

"The support we have received to match the generous gift from the Oberndorfs has been amazing," said Dr. Nancy Rieves, Executive Director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. "So far we've received large donations from members of our Board of Directors, Foundation Trustees, individual college presidents, our alumni -- including 2012 Distinguished Alumnus Wes Moore, our chapters, regions and advisors, and now ACCT. We are very thankful for their dedication to helping students complete."

Learn more about the Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship and make a gift online at www.ptkfoundation.org/lifeline-to-completion.

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 support of existing and 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. Nancy Rieves, Executive Director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, at 1.800.946.9995, ext. 3537.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,280 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, Canada, Germany, Peru, the Republic of Palau, 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.