Supporting Student Success
Dr. Paul Stiffler and his wife provide generous gift to support the Learning Commons
By Kari Johnson
When Dr. Paul Stiffler started BGSU as a freshman in 1961 he knew it was a turning point in his life. Even as an undergraduate student, Stiffler understood the value of education, hard work and learning resources offered by the University.
“During my time at BGSU, I lived at the McFall library. At that time there wasn’t the Internet or Google, so all of my resources and reference materials had to be provided by the library,” he said.
Stiffler, a board-certified microbiologist and entrepreneur, and his wife Marty, are both passionate supporters of the BGSU University Libraries, and are helping to ensure student success with a $250,000 gift to The Stiffler University Libraries Support Fund.
Stiffler’s affinity for the University Libraries has only grown through the years. He and his wife were introduced to the newly formed University Libraries Advocates Board, now known as the University Libraries Leadership Council, and formed a connection to the library dean at the time. Stiffler has been the chair of this council since 2006. Over the years and through their relationship with current Library Dean Sara Bushong, the Stifflers’ developed a greater interest in the work of the University Libraries and Learning Commons and their commitment to student success.
“It is interesting to see how education has changed over the years and how the library encapsulates that change,” said Marty Stiffler.
“It is interesting to see how education has changed over the years and how the library encapsulates that change,” said Marty Stiffler. “We wanted to support something that makes a long-lasting difference.”
Their gift will provide financial support for students who work as writing consultants, peer subject tutors and academic skills consultants within the Learning Commons. Student employees help their peers understand course concepts, clarify course contents, help students understand study strategies, and improve academic performance.
“Paul and Marty are passionate about the mission of the University Libraries and the Learning Commons,” said Bushong. “Their gift provides long-term funding for students who provide peer academic support in the Learning Commons that directly impacts persistence to degree completion of BGSU students.”
“We like to see students get off to a good start and graduate,” said Stiffler. “The library has the ability to motivate students and encourage them to move forward in their academic endeavors.”
“We are very appreciative of the Stifflers’ gift to the Learning Commons to enhance our student support programs,” said the Learning Commons Director Mark Nelson. “Their generous gift will assist us in offering support across the curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students as they work to improve their writing, math and study skills. Beyond this, their financial support will also assist with the employment of students within the Learning Commons as consultants, providing them with valuable skills that will last a lifetime.”
Through her extensive training as a writing consultant, senior Danielle Watson works with students on all phases of their papers including development, content, clarity, idea expression, grammar and punctuation.
“It’s important to me to emphasize dialogue between myself and the writer because it’s not about the writing consultant fixing the paper; it’s about helping the student develop as a writer,” said Watson.
At the end of a 50-minute writing consultation, Watson feels the impact of her work.
“For me, it’s rewarding to see students come into the Learning Commons and become better writers and feel more accomplished. I like to help students improve their writing and establish confidence in their ability,” she said.
After graduation, Watson will attend Chatham University in Pittsburgh where she will pursue a master’s degree in counseling. She will have a teaching assistantship where she can use the skills she has gained as a writing consultant in communicating with students.
“The dialogue between a writing consultant and writer will assist me as I transition into my new role as counselor,” she said.
The Stifflers’ are steadfast in their involvement and support of the mission of the University Libraries and Learning Commons and believe in the transformational power of undergraduate and graduate education.
“Their involvement with the University Libraries collections and services provides the greatest potential for impacting the success of all BGSU students,” said Bushong. “It is an honor to work toward this shared vision with Paul and Marty.”
Stiffler has a long history of giving to BGSU, Over the years, he and his late wife, Lois Steel ’65,’67, kept close ties with their alma mater. They contributed annually through BGSU’s President’s Club and also set up the Stephen S. Steel Scholarship in biology in honor of Lois’s father. Stiffler established the Lois Jean Steel Stiffler Scholarship in her honor after her death in 1995.
During the recent “Building Dreams” capital campaign, Stiffler and his wife Marty provided the funding for naming the Student Life suite of offices in the new Bowen-Thompson Student Union.
In 2013, Stiffler was one of four recipients of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni award. This award recognizes extraordinary accomplishments of alumni who have made significant contributions to their chosen professional field and/or through their community involvement. In addition, he received the Friends of the University Libraries Friends Award in 2009 for his involvement with the library.