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 Sept. 18.
Alan Goff ’75 and Coral Harris are deeply committed to Otterbein and making a difference in the lives of our campus community and beyond. After relocating from Maine to Westerville in 2018, the couple fully immersed themselves into life on campus. Together they embrace Otterbein’s work toward creating a model community of leaders and learners and they epitomize what it means to work collaboratively with the University and its faculty, students, and staff.
Goff and Harris have been advocates for a number of causes, from sustainability to lifelong learning to COVID-19 support and more. Their involvement and philanthropic support can be seen in a number of areas in which they are passionate. In addition to supporting the Where We STAND Matters campaign, they established the Dr. David Deever Mathematics and Computer Science Endowed Fund, Innovative Sustainability Fund, Rolling Green Fund, and the sustainable water feature and outdoor lab at The Point. They are also dedicated supporters of the Otterbein Fund, Promise House, Friends of the Library, Department of Theatre and Dance, and the Kathy A. Krendl Distinguished Lecture Series. The couple has also earmarked a planned gift for Otterbein to be used in support of the University endowment that will have a major and lasting impact.
Joyce Strickler Miller ’61, president of the Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club, accepts the Mary B. Thomas ’28 Commitment to Otterbein award from President Comerford.
Also honored this year was the Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club, an organization that has had a remarkable impact on countless students and our community for 100 years. The Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club was established in October 1921 by 30 visionary alumnae, faculty, and their spouses to honor outstanding Otterbein women and provide financial support to the University. For the past century, the selfless members of the Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club have never wavered from their mission.
In the beginning, members hosted teas, luncheons, and picnics for new faculty, senior women students, the campus community, and guests visiting Otterbein. The club’s first donation was shortly after its founding when they donated $5,000 in 1922. In 1952, the Club established a volunteer-run thrift shop on campus to help fund donations to Otterbein under the leadership of volunteers Carol Frank and Vida S. Clements. Known simply as the Thrift Shop, the Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club has donated more than $1 million dollars to support the University since it was established, and continues to donate between $30,000-$35,000 each year.
In total, more than 30 volunteers work over 2,000 hours each year to operate the shop two days a week. All proceeds go directly to support the endowed scholarships the club has founded, including the Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club Scholarship, Donna L. Kerr Scholarship, Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club Service Scholarship, and Diamond Jubilee Grant, which provides emergency assistance to a student or students who experience unexpected financial hardships.