BGSU trustees celebrate historic gift for student success, honor faculty accomplishments at May meeting

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – At their second meeting of 2024, the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees celebrated a historic gift focused on student success, honored faculty achievements and approved campus upgrades to ensure the University remains relevant for future learners.

Celebrating a historic gift
At the May 3 meeting, trustees celebrated a historic gift to support thousands of future students through an expanded, philanthropic partnership between BGSU and the Thompson Foundation to provide nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in scholarships at the University.

The announcement comes following the successful pressure-testing of the Thompson Working Families Scholarship program at BGSU over the last decade, with a focus on shared accountability through University resources and philanthropy to achieve student success.

When combined with their past scholarship support, Bob and Ellen Thompson shared their intent to increase their contribution to scholarships at BGSU to total $121 million, with the possibility of an additional $30 million to extend the program past 2035. If realized, the Thompsons will have contributed $150 million to student scholarships at BGSU.

This contribution will be the largest in the University’s history, the largest single gift designated to student scholarships in the state of Ohio’s history and one of the largest non-endowed scholarship programs of its kind in the nation.

“This is a generationally defining gift for thousands of students who might not otherwise be able to earn a college degree,” said BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers. “As a public university for the public good, access to higher education is at the very core of our mission, and we are incredibly grateful for the Thompsons’ unprecedented generosity in supporting student scholarships at BGSU. The impact of this gift is truly immeasurable.”

In 2014, BGSU alumni Robert ’55, ’06 (Hon.) and Ellen (Bowen) ’54, ’06 (Hon.) created the Thompson Working Families Scholarship program to help students from working families overcome financial barriers to higher education.

Beginning with 15 students in the first cohort, the Thompson Foundation pressure-tested the program over the last decade at BGSU, steadily extending and expanding its support as success metrics were met.

With this gift announcement, more than 6,200 BGSU students are expected to receive Thompson scholarship support, from the program’s inception through 2035.

With an innovative public-private philanthropic partnership approach, the program ensures all parties are invested in student success. The University is committed to match the required Thompson scholarship funding, dollar for dollar, through University dollars and donor support for each student and ensure that students graduate in four years or less. Thompson Scholars must also commit to accountability metrics from the Thompson Foundation, such as maintaining academic progress and completing required community service hours.

Honoring faculty accomplishments
Recognizing quality teaching, research/creative activities and service, the board honored a total of 49 BGSU faculty members with promotion and tenure status.

Trustees voted to promote or appoint 15 faculty members to full professor, 14 to associate professor, eight to teaching professor and 11 to associate teaching professor. One faculty member was granted tenure in addition to those who were promoted or appointed to professor and associate professor, respectively.

Additionally, the board of trustees granted emeritus status to 13 faculty members.

"At BGSU, we are grateful to have world-class faculty who are committed to student success and providing an education of value," said Dr. Joe B. Whitehead Jr., provost and senior vice president at BGSU. "Achieving promotion and tenure highlights a dedication to quality teaching, high-impact research and creative activities that benefit students and society and drive BGSU forward."

The BGSU Board of Trustees also appointed Dr. Wael Mokhtar as new dean of the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering and as a tenured professor in the School of Engineering.

Mokhtar is set to join BGSU in July following his role as director of the School of Engineering at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He holds a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Old Dominion University and is a professor of mechanical engineering at GVSU.

He will succeed Dr. Kendall T. Harris who has served as interim dean of the college since August 2023.

Meeting workforce needs
Committed to supporting workforce needs in Ohio and beyond, trustees approved the creation of a one-of-a-kind Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at BGSU.

Set to launch in August 2025, the BGSU Doctor of Occupational Therapy program will mirror the University's already successful two-year, hybrid Doctor of Physical Therapy program, where students from anywhere in the country learn in an accelerated, online format and come to campus twice per semester for hands-on experiential learning and collaborative clinical sessions.

The unique model of the BGSU Doctor of Occupational Therapy program will reduce barriers to education through its flexible, affordable format while also preparing students for entry-level practice in communities, urban and rural, as occupational therapists.

Offered through the College of Health and Human Services, the BGSU Doctor of Occupational Therapy program will comprise 13 full-time faculty members to support a total of 160 students per year and is set to be accredited by the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education.

In the healthcare profession, occupational therapists assist patients to develop, regain and maintain mobility following an injury, illness or other related trauma. The profession is expected to grow 14% into 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is well above the average 5.3% for other career fields.

Planning for the future
The BGSU Board of Trustees also adopted Campus Master Plan 2024, which will serve as a long-term guide for improving buildings and related infrastructure on the Bowling Green campus for at least the next 15 years.

Aligned with the University's strategic plan, the flexible Campus Master Plan 2024 seeks to elevate BGSU's ranking as the No. 1 university in Ohio for student experience through relevant, comprehensive facilities and spaces that support learning, teaching, research and creative activities. The plan also includes bolstering the University's connection to the city of Bowling Green.

BGSU Campus Master Plan 2024 is being implemented with a particular focus on STEM facilities and infrastructure, highlighting the University's commitment to addressing workforce demands in the critical science, technology, engineering and mathematics career fields. The plan will also feature a primary emphasis on residence halls, dining facilities and other learning community spaces, including the Jerome Library for enhanced student learning and activities.

During the May meeting, the board also approved exterior and roof restorations for the Jerome Library to ensure the building's longevity for years to come. Renovations to Kohl Hall were also approved, which include adding residential rooms, modernizing restrooms and other aesthetic and experience-related improvements.

Providing accessible education
Keeping education accessible through the Falcon Tuition Guarantee, trustees set tuition and general fee rates for the 2024-25 academic year, which features locked-in costs for 12 consecutive semesters for all new, first-time undergraduate students.

For Bowling Green campus students in the seventh cohort of the Falcon Tuition Guarantee, the board approved a 0.75% annual increase in tuition and fees, or $16.90 per credit hour. Similarly, new students on the Huron campus covered by the Falcon Tuition Guarantee will also see a 0.75% annual increase in tuition and fees, or $7.60 per credit hour.

Students no longer covered under their respective cohort of the Falcon Tuition Guarantee, including fifth- and sixth-year students, will move to the next subsequent group and will pay additional fees unless they are enrolled in a specifically identified program that requires more than four years to complete.

Trustees voted in favor of no new or revised special fees for the upcoming academic year. The board also opted not to increase the out-of-state surcharge for undergraduate and graduate instruction fees.

Recognizing generous supporters
The board of trustees additionally approved naming the volleyball playing surface in the Stroh Center as the Mo and Jon Stansbery Court in recognition of the couple's generous support of BGSU athletics.

As longtime supporters of BGSU, the Stansberys were presented with the Volleyball Supporters of the Year Award in 2017. Through their philanthropic giving, the pair also established the Jon and Mo Stansbery Volleyball Scholarship at BGSU and have supported the Volleyball Enhancement Fund, Ice Hockey Enhancement Fund, Women's Basketball Enhancement Fund, the Athletic Fitness and Weight Room, the Falcon Club Scholarship and Success Fund, the Student Emergency Fund, BGSU One Day and The Excellence Fund at BGSU.

The Stansberys are also recognized members of The Presidents Club, Leadership Circle and Carillon donor recognition societies as well as the Champion's Circle of the Falcon Club.

Jon Stansbery is a two-time alumnus, graduating from BGSU in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in accounting and in 1984 with an MBA. He went on to work for Marathon Petroleum Corporation where he retired after 34 years of employment.

Maureen Stansbery, also known as Mo, also retired from Marathon Petroleum Corporation where she worked as an information technology analyst.

Welcoming a national trustee
The board appointed Paul J. Hooker '75 to a three-year term as a national trustee effective May 4 in recognition of his professional accomplishments, national reach and contributions to the BGSU learning community.

After graduating from BGSU in 1975 with a bachelor's in business administration, Hooker spent most of his professional career with SFERRA Fine Linens – a luxury bedding, bath and home decor store based in Edison, New Jersey – and eventually retired as CEO.

Previously, he served as a member of the BGSU Foundation Board and was a member of the Changing Lives for the World Campaign steering committee. Hooker also has supported the Alumni Laureate Scholars and the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst College of Business Building Fund.

Hooker is the namesake for the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Schmidthorst College of Business, which is one of only 20 centers worldwide recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The center serves as northwest Ohio's premier resource for entrepreneurial education, featuring a weeklong Entrepreneurship Week each April that brings entrepreneurial leaders from around the country to campus.

Additionally, Hooker raises awareness of young athletes with special needs and partners with colleges and universities nationwide to match student mentors with people living with disabilities.

In 1990, he and his wife Margo founded a nonprofit to help children with disabilities and their families get involved with programs in basketball, soccer, Little League softball, golf, flag football and tennis. Now known as RallyCap Sports, the program has chapters at various colleges and universities across the Midwest and Northeast, with the BGSU chapter serving as the first and largest.

Hooker was named a top 100 graduate in the first 100 years of BGSU and was inducted into the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame in 2012.

Updated: 05/08/2024 11:20AM