OTTERBEIN UNIVERSITY HAS SELECTED JAMES A. AND KATHLEEN C. RUTHERFORD P’99 AS THE 2020 RECIPIENTS OF THE MARY B. THOMAS COMMITMENT TO OTTERBEIN AWARD.
For more than two decades, Otterbein Trustee Emeritus Jim Rutherford and his spouse, Kathy, have been true leadership and service ambassadors for Otterbein. Jim is a first-generation graduate of Denison University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Economics. He co-founded Goal Systems International, a computer systems software and information technology services company in Columbus in 1976 and has served on the boards of a number of public and privately-owned companies. He has also been a trustee of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Case Western Reserve University. “Going to college changed the trajectory of my life,” he said.
Jim and Kathy raised two sons: Mark, a 1995 CWRU engineering graduate, and Keith, a 1999 business graduate of Otterbein. It was Keith’s experience at Otterbein that showed Jim and Kathy the impact of the Otterbein community and inspired them to begin creating opportunities for other students.
Jim’s tenure as a trustee (2012-2018) saw the launch and successful completion of the Where We STAND Matters campaign, which raised more than $52 million for the University. Jim and Kathy were also key personal investors in that campaign.
In 1997, Jim and Kathy established the James A. and Kathleen C. Rutherford Endowed Scholarship, and they have continued to bolster the endowment so that more first-generation students with financial need can meet their academic and leadership potential. “Kathy and I want these students to use their education to go out and do good things,” said Jim. “It doesn’t matter if they make a lot of money — we want them to be competent and leave the world a better place.”
To launch and help support the Where We STAND Matters Campaign, the Rutherfords made a $500,000 commitment: a multi-year $250,000 grant to “raise awareness of the University both locally and nationally to ensure the University’s viability and competitiveness in a challenging market environment” plus a $250,000 bequest. Their longtime annual support for the University’s Otterbein FUND shows they realize the impact of unrestricted annual gifts. They are among the founding members of Otterbein’s Joanne Van Sant Society, which honors donors who make annual gifts of $1,000 or more each fiscal year.
“We’re helping deserving students lead successful lives,” Jim said. “When they become successful, they can help others become successful. To Kathy and me, that’s how philanthropy works.”
The Rutherfords will be honored at an alumni awards ceremony during Homecoming celebrations in September.
2019: Annie Upper Ames ’86
2018: Thomas C. ’63 and Sarah K. Morrison
2017: Wendell Foote ’60
2017: Dr. Thomas R. ’51 and Jean Hostetler ’54 Bromeley
2015: John ’68 and Susie King
2014: Dr. William E. ’48 and Helen Hilt ’47 LeMay
2012: Vernon L. Pack ’50
2011: Vida S. Clements Foundation
2011: Ernest ‘38 and Neva Fritsche
2011: Dr. Edwin ’47 and Marilou Harold ’45 Roush