University of Oklahoma Receives Major Gift to Endow Scholarships

Article excerpt

The University of Oklahoma received a major gift from Will and Helen Webster of California to endow scholarships and to provide key support for programs and projects in OU's Honors and Education colleges.

The gift is unusual because Will and Helen Webster have never lived in Oklahoma or attended OU but came to know about the university more than 30 years ago through a faculty member at the OU Health Sciences Center.

"Over the years of my involvement with OU, President David Boren has built a unique legacy, and Helen and I are pleased to be a part of it," Will Webster said.

A portion of the Websters' gift will endow a Scholars Program, which will provide substantial awards in the range of $4,000 to $6,000 annually to academically talented students who also have significant financial need. Recipients of the scholarship will be eligible to receive the award each of their undergraduate years at OU, providing they continue to meet the established criteria.

The Websters' new scholarship gift is the most recent to OU's top- priority Campaign for Scholarships, which has now raised $217 million in gifts and pledges. Will Webster is a member of the campaign's leadership committee. He and his wife have long supported scholarships for OU students, including establishing a Sooner Heritage Endowment, which is one of OU's largest, helping up to 70 students each year.

Another portion of their latest gift will fund the Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College's Informal Reading Groups and establish a new program to help students with their public speaking and interviewing skills. The Honors College currently manages 80 individual reading groups annually with approximately 400 students participating. The Websters' gift will provide money to purchase hardback books and expand the popular Informal Reading Groups to others at OU who would like to participate.

The new program to develop public speaking and interviewing skills will build on earlier programs - such as the Presentation Skills Workshop - to help students learn about effective public speaking techniques and, more importantly, to give them opportunities to develop their public speaking skills through frequent practice. The new program will be based on a combination of informal optional programs and one-hour courses for academic credit.

The portion of their gift to the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education will provide support for the college's Academic Advising Center, which is the first stop for new education students and where all undergraduate and international travel advising takes place. …