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Rutherford Endowed Scholarship began by good Samaritans

Rutherford Endowed Scholarship began by good Samaritans

This article is from the Spring 2016 edition of Otterbein Towers magazine, out now. Read more articles from the latest edition online.


“Going to college changed the trajectory of my life.”

Jim Rutherford was the first person in his family to go to college. After high school, Rutherford applied and was accepted to a number of colleges and even received an appointment to the Air Force Academy. But his father didn’t support his son’s choice — he didn’t understand why college was necessary.

Rutherford was in and out of school, working any and every job imaginable including working nights in a hotel, working in construction, bartending, even working a stint as a lab tech in a starch factory. “I probably worked at least 25 different jobs.” He also joined the Navy.

It was seeing the reality of college and the lives of those who had a college education that solidified Rutherford’s determination. “I knew I was going to get my degree one way or the other. I began to understand how successful people become successful and how they stay that way.” He earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

Rutherford will tell you his success has been the combination of being prepared, of having an opportunity, while also noting it was a good time to be in the software business. A math wiz, he went from being a software programmer to building a software company he ran for 15 years.

Now, having served on a number of boards like Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Case Western Reserve and currently serving as an Otterbein trustee, Rutherford and his wife, Kathy, give back in other ways. The James and Kathleen Rutherford Endowed Scholarship is helping to support the education of at least five first-generation Otterbein students this year.

“Kathy and I want these students to use their education to go out and do good things. It doesn’t matter if they make a lot of money — we want them to lead a life they’re proud of.”

Rutherford believes there are really just two things in life that matter: to be competent at whatever you do and to be a good person.

But don’t call the couple heroes for helping support students’ goals and keeping their education a little more affordable. “We’re no heroes. Kathy and I knew money never really made us happy, so we decided to help others with it.”

He says it feels great knowing that he and Kathy are helping to build futures. “You’re helping deserving students become successful. When they become successful; they can help others become successful. To Kathy and me, that’s how philanthropy works.”

Learn more about available scholarships and financial aid at Otterbein.