Abby Day


McDavis presidency grew scholarships given to students

Maddie Capron / For The Post

Since OU President Roderick McDavis stepped into his role in 2004, the university has increased the amount of scholarship money it gives to students by millions of dollars.

Since 2004, the amount of scholarship money given to students by the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships has increased by about $25 million. In 2016, the office gave about $35 million in scholarships.

Creating scholarships that would bring more diverse students to campus was a goal for McDavis from the beginning. He created the Urban Scholars program in 2004 and he proposed the Appalachian Scholars program in 2005. He hoped those programs would make more people interested in attending OU, regardless of whether they received the scholarship.

The Urban Scholars program started with the hope of providing 10 minority students from urban cities in Ohio, such as Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, with scholarships to attend OU. McDavis hoped that number would eventually increase to 100 a year. However, only 58 people have received the scholarship since it began in 2004, five of whom are enrolled in the program now.

McDavis believed diversity on campus would increase as a result of the program. After the first year of his presidency, diversity increased on campus when 120 more minority students enrolled at OU in 2005. McDavis said the program was the second greatest achievement of his first year.

"This has just been an incredible turnaround," McDavis said in September 2005. "That's not just a simple overall increase in enrollment. That speaks to the diversity agenda.”

In addition to the Urban Scholars program, the Appalachian Scholars program aimed to get students from 29 counties in the Appalachian region of Ohio to come OU. Appalachian Scholars receive a four-year renewable scholarship along with a book stipend and other resources.

“In my estimation, that's a group we need to pay more attention to," McDavis said in 2005. "We live in Appalachia, we are in Southeast Ohio, and yet we don't have a lot of programs that attract some of the top students from the area."

Since it began, 38 people have received the scholarship. This year, there are five Appalachian Scholars in total.

McDavis and his wife, Deborah, contributed personal money to help fund the program.

In 2009, they committed to donating $10,000 to the Urban Scholars program and the Appalachian Scholars program every year for the following five years, according to a previous Post report. As of 2014, the McDavises contributed more than $119,000 to scholarships, most of which went to the two programs he created.

In addition to those programs, Craig Cornell, senior vice provost for Strategic Enrollment Management, said the implementation of the OHIO Signature Award Program in 2014, a set of scholarships and grants given to first-year students, helps show “significant commitment to student affordability.”

“It was an effort to look at how much money we give to students ... and figuring out, ‘Are we giving the right scholarships? Are we giving them the right amount of dollars? Are we giving them to the right students?’ ” Chad Mitchell, chief of staff for the vice president for Finance and Administration, said when the program began in 2014.

The OHIO Guarantee was also created during McDavis’ time as president. Cornell said McDavis worked “tirelessly” with the Ohio Department of Education and the State Legislature to get the program passed. The program guarantees students will pay the same amount of money during their four years at OU.

“There has been significant gains related to institutional financial aid over the course of Dr. McDavis’ Presidency,” Cornell said in an email.

Development by: Seth Archer / For The Post

Landing Page

The McDavis Issue

OU President Roderick McDavis is leaving February 17. The Post looks back at his time as Ohio's president. Click this box to read the rest of the stories from this issue.