Edward McFadden – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- Bringing scholarship donors and student scholarship recipients together for a formal dinner, Clarion University hosted its Scholar and Donor Recognition Dinner Tuesday, April 25. The event is included as part of Clarion’s 12th annual Academic Excellence Series, a two-week-long acknowledgement of achievement and scholarship.
The dinner placed donors and other guests at tables with students and featured talks from President Karen Whitney and David Bailey, benefactor of the David A. Bailey Scholarship. Students and donors were encouraged to have their pictures taken together to help send messages of gratitude to donors who could not make the event.
As entertainment and a follow-up to the night’s speakers, the CUP Ellas, an all-female acapella group, performed songs as the audience enjoyed dessert.
In her speech, Whitney expressed gratitude and solidarity with donators, encouraging Clarion pride among the audience with her trademark “Fly, Eagles, Fly!” cheer.
First-year sophomore Olivia Keltz, studying marketing and management with a minor in accounting, reported that she appreciated the opportunity to meet her benefactors, James Crooks and Lydia Crooks, and to thank them in person for their donations.
Keltz received the Donald and Bernadette Hugus Crooks Scholarship Endowment, which James Crooks reports is a four-year renewable scholarship, and is funded in part by donations from the Crooks.
“Meeting Lydia and James Crooks was an amazing opportunity for me,” said Keltz. “It feels like I finally got to see the faces that were behind the check I received, which is a great feeling. I just want so badly to tell any donor for a scholarship thank you, not only for donating money, but for believing in me and investing in my future. Tonight, I was able to do that.”
“I think it’s important to have students hear the stories of their donors and be able to thank them,” Keltz added.
Crooks, benefactor of the Donald E. & Bernadette Hugus Crooks Family Scholarship, reported that he had been inspired by the generosity he had seen of others in his life.
“People in my family, and people that I have known have lived lives of generosity, and how rich were their lives,” said Crooks. “I’ve also known people who lived with a very tight fist, and it never ends up so well for them.”
The scholarship was founded nearly 25 years ago, Crooks reported, when his family realized that more than 25 family members were affiliated with Clarion University in one way or another, including several Clarion alumni. Crooks and his wife have donated to the scholarship over the years, as well as owning and operating F.L. Crooks & Co apparel store on Main Street and 10 apartments for rent in Clarion.
Crooks hopes others will be motivated to give by the charity they receive. “Philanthropy is something everyone can participate in. You don’t have to be a millionaire to participate in giving,” said Crooks. “It’s really important that kids realize that someone did write out a check. That there is a face behind the money. Youth is our future.”
Director of Annual Giving Budd Lauer reported working with Director of Scholarships David McFarland to coordinate the event. Lauer reported that the work needed to pull off the dinner meant coordinating a large number of donors and students at the same event.
When asked about the importance of the event, Lauer mentioned the stringent costs of higher education as being potentially distressing to the modern student.
“It’s important to help students understand that the community is behind them. There are generations of people behind them today, and they are here to help,” Lauer said.
The Academic Excellence Series will continue another week, finishing with the ROTC Leadership Excellence Awards Ceremony May 2. Notably, the series will include the Reinhard Awards, Minority Student Services Recognition Dinner and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Initiation Ceremony.