University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced at the OU Board of Regents meeting today that Jon and Cathryn Withrow of Norman have made a $1 million endowed gift to the College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Scholars Program, making it possible for all students in the program to study abroad during their years at OU.
Mr. and Mrs. Withrow’s gift will fund international travel scholarships for 20 Leadership Scholars annually.
Their gift addresses one of OU’s top priorities – increasing the availability of study abroad scholarships to enable students from all economic backgrounds to participate in these types of enriching international experiences.
“We are so excited about this new Study Abroad program for the Leadership Scholars,” they said. “This will add an important dimension to their education at the University of Oklahoma. Traveling is a valued part of our lives, and we are so pleased to give these outstanding students the opportunity to experience the world. Under the leadership of Dean Kelly Damphousse, we are confident that this program in the College of Arts and Sciences will flourish and many unforgettable memories will be made.”
“The University is grateful to the Withrows for providing exceptional opportunities and financial help to our students,” Boren said.
To honor the Withrows’ investment, the program will be named the Cathryn L. and Jon R. Withrow Arts and Sciences Leadership Scholars Program.
“I am so glad to know that the names of Cathryn and Jon Withrow will forevermore be associated with our Leadership Scholars program,” said Dean Damphousse. “The Withrows understand that international experiences not only teach us about other cultures but they teach us about ourselves.
“Cathryn and Jon are investing themselves in our efforts to challenge and enlighten our students. Their generous gift will have long-reaching effects for our students far beyond the trip itself, enriching the life of our college in ways that we will probably never fully appreciate.”
The Leadership Scholars Program, established in 1996 by the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, brings together students from a variety of backgrounds, academic disciplines and experiences for the purpose of expanding their leadership education.
Students meet once a month to participate in a variety of activities and opportunities to cultivate and enhance their leadership and academic skills. Leadership Scholars are also paired with members of the College’s Board of Visitors who serve as mentors, providing guidance and advice to students throughout their time in the program.
Mr. and Mrs. Withrow, both of whom are members of the College’s Board of Visitors, have a long history of supporting student scholarships at OU. With this latest donation, the Norman couple has donated almost $3 million for scholarships over the past several years that have helped students in four different colleges on the Norman campus. They also established a fellowship in the College of Allied Health at the OU Health Sciences Center designated for doctoral students who will be conducting research and working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Their latest gift will lower the financial barriers to study abroad opportunities for future Leadership Scholars by offering scholarships to student members of the program.
At a reception honoring the Withrows, Taylor Shupert, who serves as the 2014-2015 student chair for the Leadership Scholars, noted that “one specific initiative that is especially exciting is an inaugural study abroad trip for Leadership Scholars to various cities in Ireland over the course of a month in 2015.”
“Expanding cultural horizons is so important to education and understanding the diverse world we live in,” she said. “The Withrows have a passion to see this wonderful opportunity come to fruition, and future Leadership Scholars will have the chance to grow and flourish personally and professionally through this amazing trip abroad.”
Jon Withrow, who earned his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering and a master’s degree in geological engineering from OU, is owner and president of Sundance Oil Co. in Oklahoma City. Cathryn Withrow, after studying art education, graduated with a degree in fine arts from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She serves as vice president of Sundance Oil Co.