The Mary B. Thomas ’28 Commitment to Otterbein Award was established by President Emerita Kathy Krendl and the University Board of Trustees to recognize extraordinary philanthropic leadership, service, and advancement of Otterbein’s mission. It is the highest honor Otterbein bestows upon its community members for transformational leadership and commitment. Two awards were conferred at this year’s Celebration of Otterbein event at Homecoming and Family Weekend on Oct. 1.
The 2022 Mary B. Thomas ’28 Commitment to Otterbein Award honorees: Mark ’78 and Deb Scott ’77 Thresher, P’05 (front row) and members of the Otterbein “O” Club including (left to right) past president Ron Jones ’61, current president Mark Granger ’79, and past president Jack Pietila ’62.
Mary B. Thomas ’28 Commitment to Otterbein Award honorees: Mark ’78 and Deb Scott ’77 Thresher P’05
Former Board of Trustees Chair Mark Thresher ’78 P’05 and his wife, Deb Scott ’77 Thresher P’05, met at an Otterbein football game in the fall of 1975 when Mark was a sophomore and Deb was a junior. The two began dating shortly thereafter and Deb, a music education major, selected Mark, an accounting major, as her escort when she was elected Homecoming Queen in 1976. Deb was a member of Epsilon Kappa Tau sorority and participated in choir and band while at Otterbein. Mark played basketball and was a member of Torch and Key and Tau Pi Phi honoraries. They married four months after Mark’s graduation in 1978.
The Threshers have never forgotten how their experiences at Otterbein helped prepare them for life, which has become the catalyst for their incredible support of the University over the years. The impact of their generosity can be seen in gifts to establish a scholarship fund for music education majors (Deborah and Mark Thresher Family Scholarship), a fellowship that will support experiential learning at Otterbein (Mark and Deborah Thresher Fellowship), and annual support of the Otterbein Fund. In total, the Threshers have donated a significant amount in support of Otterbein over the past 31 years.
Otterbein “O” Club Foundation
Established in 1955, the Otterbein “O” Club aids and assists Otterbein University by contributing to our athletic programs and students. That year, Robert “Moe” Agler ’48 was appointed head football coach and along with his friends, former football teammates, Edwin “Dubbs” Roush ’47 and Francis “Red” Bailey ’43, the trio received permission to establish a Varsity “O” Alumni Club. In addition to Roush, who served as the organization’s first president, and Bailey, who served as its first vice president, the original board of directors also included John Zezech ’44, Harold Augspurger ’41, and Dwight “Smokey” Ballenger ’39.
Over the last 60 years, the “O” Club has partnered with Otterbein to enhance its athletic program in countless ways. Supported by the donations of individuals, businesses, trusts, and foundations, the “O” Club has been a transformational force in improving Otterbein’s athletic facilities, benefiting not only its student-athletes but the entire campus and extended Westerville community as well. In 1981, the club created its own foundation and to date has donated significantly to support athletics programs and facilities. Major projects benefiting from their support include the Rike Center weight room in 2008, Memorial Stadium renovations in 2005, the new track and turf in 2014, and repairs to the pole vault area of the track.
Otterbein remains deeply grateful for the ongoing support of the Threshers and the “O” Club Foundation and extends congratulations to these outstanding recipients of the 2022 Mary B. Thomas ’28 Commitment to Otterbein Award.
Grants, Corporate, and Foundation Support
Grants help to provide essential funding for new programs, research, and other areas that directly impact our students at Otterbein. Our faculty and staff have recently been awarded grants from several organizations, including:
Martha Holden Jennings Foundation
Supports the conversion of art integrated chemistry lessons and activities developed for our Integrative Studies Chemistry in Art course.
Ohio Department of Higher Education
Funds scholarships for Ohio students who enter majors including nursing, math, math education, and actuarial science.
State Library of Ohio
Supported the installation of touchless lockers in the Courtright Memorial Library as well as the installation of a contactless book drop.
Ohio Board of Nursing
Supports efforts to address the nursing shortage within the State of Ohio. This two-year program will allow Otterbein to increase the number of clinical precepting placement positions and the number of clinical preceptors at IHA Sunbury Urgent Care Center.
Supports the creation of a zero-waste plan for Otterbein University in conjunction with RRS Consulting Services. SWACO, RRS Consulting, and Otterbein will work together to identify opportunities across campus to implement zero waste strategies for external events held on campus.