Making a lasting impact
For Jim ’71 and Anita Balthaser, there was never a question of if they planned to give back to the College of Engineering, only when and how.
A graduate with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering, Jim credits much of his personal success to the quality engineering and liberal arts education he received at The Ohio State University.
“Ohio State is where I learned critical thinking and the university contributed immensely to any success I have had in life,” he said.
Jim and Anita demonstrated their extraordinary commitment to the university in 2002 when they established the James and Anita Balthaser Memorial Professorship in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a gift from their estate. It will create a position in the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering to honor a distinguished faculty member and provide additional resources to fund his or her research.
“I felt strongly about what Ohio State, the College of Engineering and, especially, the ISE department had done for me and what I wanted to do in return,” said Jim. “I chose the professorship to express my commitment to Ohio State.”
In the years that followed, Jim and Anita’s desire to give back to the college that gave him so much only increased. As a student, Jim had received an assistantship appointment and managed to graduate debt-free. He was concerned about the burden college loans can create for students and wanted to help future Buckeye engineers experience the same high-quality industrial engineering education at Ohio State that he had.
“I was a ‘townie’ and 45 years ago tuition was a lot less in current dollars than it is today. I graduated debt free. That is something that is very difficult to do today,” Jim explained. “So when an opportunity arose to fund a charitable gift annuity, it seemed natural to establish a scholarship endowment.”
Their generous gift will provide significant, multiple-year scholarships to industrial and systems engineering students with financial need.
Through planned giving, the Balthasers are able to make a sustained investment in Ohio State and future students alike.
“Something that can perpetuate itself, hopefully forever, can obviously make a lasting impact on the quality of industrial engineering education that Ohio State can provide,” Jim said. “It also impacts the ability of smart, future engineers and leaders to get the education they are going to need to make the most of their talents.”
This story was originally published in Forward, the College of Engineering's giving impact report. Read more giving stories and the full report online.