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$14M gift to benefit Ohio State engineering students, faculty

College of Engineering announced a $14 million gift from its alumnus Edward Claugus. Credit: Shiyun Wang | Lantern Reporter

College of Engineering announced a $14 million gift from its alumnus Edward Claugus. Credit: Shiyun Wang | Lantern Reporter

The Ohio State University announced a $14 million gift from the estate of alumnus Edward Claugus that will benefit students, faculty and staff in the College of Engineering and William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

The money will endow five funds in honor of Bernice Claugus, Edward Claugus’ mother, to support faculty and student research as well as the college and department’s operation expenses, according to an OSU press release. Half of the gift went to the College of Engineering, while the other half went to the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, where Edward Claugus earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1981.

“He had tremendous respect for Ohio State,” Tom Claugus, Edward Claugus’ brother, said in the release. “It’s great when your younger brother is an inspiration, and Ed was an inspiration for me. My brother really lived his life to the fullest. I am sure he would be proud to see the scholarship recipients and the work that’s ongoing to further the mission of Ohio State.”

Edward Claugus is the youngest of five brothers, and all five of them received degrees from OSU, according to the press release. He was a private investor and an aviation enthusiast for most of his life, donating half of his estate to his alma mater.

This year, part of his bequest was used to provide undergraduate scholarships to 45 students in the College of Engineering.

Andre Palmer, chair of the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, said receiving this scholarship not only means a substantial financial relief but also a great inspiration for the scholarship recipients.

“It shows that even from very humble beginnings, you could become very successful in life, like Ed Claugus,” Palmer said.

Abbey Empfield, a fourth-year in chemical engineering who received $5,000 as a Claugus scholar, said she enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the Claugus family and interact with them.

“It is pretty inspirational to meet these people who were Ohio State graduates and to see how much they’ve done and how successful they’ve been,” Empfield said. “It’s very motivational to see other people working in your same field and what you can do if you stay focused and motivated.”

Besides supporting undergraduate scholarships, partial money will also be allocated to support a chair professorship, which will allow the school to recruit a new faculty member, provide funds for college and department operation expenses and fund engineering innovations, Palmer said.

“Supporting scholarships, academic facilities and world-class faculty, Ed’s generosity will have a widespread impact on this college and chemical and biomolecular engineering in particular, which will result in extraordinary changes in breadth and depth of the faculty,” David B. Williams, dean of the College of Engineering, said in the release.

“Ed’s support and belief in Ohio State are ensuring that our students and faculty will truly make a difference through these new ventures,” Williams said.

Palmer said the gift from Edward Claugus shows positive personal experiences that former students have had as undergraduates, which helps build strong connections between alumni and the university, making them want to give back after they graduate.

“Back when Ed Claugus went to school, we had a very small number of undergraduates, so they had a lot of personal relationship with the faculty,” Palmer said.

Empfield said she thinks the department she’s studying under is still doing a good job in connecting every student with all kinds of opportunities and resources.

“No matter how big the department gets, the professors in the department really do a great job reaching out to the students to make sure that you have the resources you need even if you are in such a huge university,” Empfield said.

Ellen Harrell, a third-year in chemical engineering who also received a scholarship from Edward Claugus’ donation, said receiving this scholarship and getting to learn about the donor’s life and career have inspired her to work harder and give back like he did.

“I would like to invest in other students’ futures once I’m financially able, or even just by giving my time back,” Harrell said. “That would be an amazing gift that I would like to help with the future generations.”

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