CORVALLIS, Ore. – A gift supporting scholarships from Penny Atkins, board member of the OSU Alumni Association, and her husband, Gary Atkins, both of Caldwell, Idaho, has brought Oregon State University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign past the $500-million milestone on the way to its $625-million goal.
The $250,000 commitment will establish the Shero & Miyako Yano OSUAA Scholarship Endowment Fund and provide scholarships for high-achieving students from the Treasure Valley area of eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho. The fund is named in honor of Atkins’ parents. She earned her accounting degree from Oregon State University in 1979 and is now owner of Alta Consulting, LLC, in Eagle, Idaho.
Also part of the gift is an additional $25,000 for the Mary Ellen Phillips Scholarship Endowment Fund, which supports undergraduate accounting students enrolled in the OSU College of Business. Phillips was Atkins’ accounting professor.
Atkins grew up in the Treasure Valley, where her dad still grows onions and other row crops with her brother, Craig - also an OSU graduate.
“My parents placed a high priority on college for myself and my siblings. They funded my education, which allowed me to focus on my studies and start my professional career without any debt,” Atkins said. “We feel very fortunate to be able to provide the same opportunity to others.”
OSU President Ed Ray noted the need for scholarship funds has never been more urgent. “We couldn’t be more delighted that a scholarship gift put us over the $500-million mark – especially from one of our younger alumni,” he said. “By helping students from her home area, Penny is modeling how one generation of OSU alumni and friends can help those to come.”
A member of the OSU Alumni Association board since 2003, Penny Atkins has long been a strong advocate for improving students’ access to an OSU education. As the association’s treasurer and second vice president, she has worked tirelessly to support and guide the OSUAA scholarship program.
“This is a wonderful gift, but for those us who’ve had the pleasure of working with Penny, it’s hardly a surprise that she would do something like this,” said Jeff Todd, executive director of the OSU Alumni Association. “Penny is an ideal alumni volunteer. She is relentlessly positive about everything Oregon State, but she is also a wise and pragmatic voice when it comes to keeping us on a firm financial footing so we can continue to succeed. My staff colleagues, the rest of our volunteer board and I all put great trust in her advice.”
Todd continued, “More personally, I love that the gift honors Penny’s parents, which expresses the grateful sentiment so many of us first-generation college graduates have for loved ones who made our education possible.”
Last year the alumni association distributed scholarships valued at more than $200,000 to 125 OSU students.
The Atkins’ gift helps to advance the “$100 Million for Students” Scholarship Initiative, which is part of The Campaign for OSU. To date some 350 new scholarship funds have been created and more than $78 million has been raised for scholarships and fellowships.
About Oregon State University: OSU is one of only two U.S. universities designated a land-, sea-, space- and sun-grant institution. OSU is also Oregon’s only university designated in the Carnegie Foundation’s top tier for research institutions, garnering more than 60 percent of the total federal and private research funding in the Oregon University System. Its more than 20,300 students come from all 50 states and more than 80 countries.