University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren today announced the largest one-time gift OU has ever received in scholarship support for OU students to study abroad, a $1 million donation from the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation of Tulsa. The gift, which brings OU’s overall Campaign for Scholarships to more than $211.7 million, is designated for study abroad scholarships for students participating in OU’s signature study abroad program in Arezzo, Italy.
Members of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation include OU alumna Kathy Taylor, a former mayor of Tulsa who is on OU’s College of International Studies Board of Visitors; her husband, Bill Lobeck; and daughters, Elizabeth Frame Ellison, also an OU alumna, and Molly Pellegrini.
“I am deeply grateful to Kathy Taylor, Bill Lobeck, Elizabeth Frame Ellison and Molly Pellegrini for making this critically important gift, which will help give our students the opportunity to study abroad,” Boren said at the December meeting of the OU Board of Regents. “Global skills and perspectives are a key part of the comprehensive education needed for the next generation of leaders.”
One of OU’s top priorities is increasing the availability of study abroad scholarships to enable students from all economic backgrounds to participate in these types of enriching international experiences.
“A generous gift of this kind completely transforms what we can do for students who want to study abroad, which can be a life-changing experience,” said Suzette Grillot, interim dean of the College of International Studies.
In the past 10 years, the proportion of OU students studying abroad during their time at OU has increased from 2 percent to almost 25 percent, an increase related to the success of the College of International Studies – OU’s newest college – which has seen rapid growth in student enrollment and added new faculty members who have expanded international studies course offerings.
Arezzo is OU’s most popular OU study abroad location. Nearly one in five OU students who earn credit abroad go to this city in the Tuscan region of Italy. Signature programs are operated out of facilities administered and led by OU faculty and staff while also making use of local instructors.
The great advantage of these programs is that the facility is available to the university year-round, giving students options from year-long or semester-long experiences to summer and intersession classes. With private support, OU purchased the Santa Chiara Monastery in Arezzo in 2010 as the base for its Signature Study Abroad Program.