Russ College’s gift grows to $124M

A 2008 gift to Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering just got $29 million larger — now totaling the largest donation ever received by a public university in Ohio.

OU was named the beneficiary of the $95 million estate gift from the late Fritz and Dolores Russ in 2008 — an estate that included $12.7 million in property and $82.1 million in cash and securities.

The securities included shares from YSI Inc., a Yellow Springs-based developer of environmental water-monitoring technology that was recently acquired by ITT, a New York-based technological engineering company.

That sale, announced Sept. 6, yielded an additional $29 million for the engineering college — bringing the total value of the Russ Estate to $124 million.

“It is important to recognize that a gift of this size is hard to put a dollar amount on,” said Becky Watts, chief of staff to OU President Roderick McDavis.

She added that it is not uncommon for the university to acquire shares of a company as part of financial gifts. Because of fluctuations in the economy, Watts said it is often impossible to predict if those shares will increase in value over time.

Much of the donated money will be used to support student financial aid and organizations within the Russ College, said Colleen Carow, the college’s director of external relations.

Carow added that the money also will be used to fund faculty, physical infrastructure, personnel and prominence.

“This is a highly targeted, measurable, long-range, strategic plan that fits perfectly with Fritz’s well-known propensity for planning 25 years ahead,” said Denis Irwin, dean of the engineering college, in a statement.

The gift is counted toward the university’s “Promise Lives” capital campaign, which aims to raise $450 million by 2015. McDavis reported to the Board of Trustees in September that OU had raised $345 million toward the campaign.

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