In 2012, a group of OHIO parents created the Parents and Family Endowment to support student health and wellness and provide a financial safety net for students in times of crises.
Since then, 3,465 individuals have contributed $265,152 to this fund. Administered by the Division of Student Affairs, it has fed students who couldn’t afford meals, covered flights home for students during family emergencies, and provided for off-campus students facing housing crises.
Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones, AB ’95, MEd ’97, PhD ’11, said that in 2017 the University used these resources to support students impacted by off-campus fires. Students received immediate supplies—like on-campus meal plans and Walmart gift cards—as well as additional support—like replacing library books lost in one of the fires.
“Whenever a student dies, we use the fund to purchase a Bobcat flag that we fly over Cutler Hall and present to the family,” said Hall-Jones. “Just fall semester (2017) we bought a student a 10-block meal plan to tide her over because she had no money and hadn’t eaten in days.”
Hall-Jones heard from an alumna and parent whose son was impacted by the 2014 Union Street fire. “I received a phone call that no parent wants to get. ‘Mom, my apartment burned down, and I am in the hospital,’” wrote Lauren Szejk McAndrews (AB ’86) whose son, Kelley McAndrews (BSPE ’16), was then a junior. “As I raced around gathering replacement clothes and toiletries before driving the 3.5 hours to help my son, it never once entered my mind that Ohio University would be helping him too. Before I even arrived, the Dean of Students had been to the hospital to see him, arranged a hotel to stay in, provided food, clothing and toiletries, and began to organize additional assistance for the 40 or so students affected.
“I have never been as proud to be an OU alum(na) and parent,” McAndrews wrote. “That the school stepped up and went above and beyond like that is a testament to the fantastic Bobcat community!”