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Ohio Wesleyan University Receives $500,000 Gift for Student Scholarships
Female, Pre-medicine Majors Benefit from Scholarship Created by OWU Alumna in Friend’s Memory

September 4, 2007

DELAWARE, OHIO – When one of Phyllis McMullen Wynn’s college roommates and best friends died of lupus in 1971, Wynn’s life changed forever.

As the 1955 Ohio Wesleyan University alumna would recount later, the event opened her eyes to the power and potential of philanthropy. Months later, Wynn—“Phyl” to those who knew her—created a scholarship in her friend’s name, contributing to the fund throughout her own life. Wynn died in September 2006, leaving a final estate gift of $500,000 to Ohio Wesleyan to support the Barbara Van Sittert Scholarship.

When accepting a community service award in 2003, Wynn explained the impact of her friend’s death:

“[M]y dear friend and my college roommate, Barbara, died from lupus at the age of 37. … In my grief, I reflected on our college days, our friendship, and pondered what I could do to honor her memory, express my gratitude for having known her, and maybe help towards finding a cure for lupus. I came up with the idea of creating a scholarship in her name for women in the pre-medicine program at our university. That was the first time that I consciously connected gratitude and generosity. From then on, this connection has had a bearing on how I choose to use my time and resources. … May we all remember to show our gratitude by being generous.”

In 2005, Ohio Wesleyan honored Wynn with its Distinguished Achievement Citation in recognition of her “exceptional lifework as a feminist, a responsible public servant, a respected teacher and for her involvement with the world community.”

After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan, Wynn earned her master’s degree from Case Western Reserve University and spent 22 years as an elementary school teacher. She lived in Wilmington, Del., where she was well known for her philanthropy and community involvement. To help pass on an understanding and appreciation of civic responsibility, she established the Youth Philanthropy Fund in Wilmington in 1999 to teach young people the value of giving to others.

“Phyl Wynn made a difference in so many lives,” said David O. Robbins, provost and interim president at Ohio Wesleyan. “She remains a shining example of the service learning and civic responsibility that Ohio Wesleyan seeks to impart to students. Since its beginning, the Van Sittert Scholarship has supported young women who seek to improve the lives of people with illnesses such as lupus. That is a remarkable legacy.”

The Van Sittert Scholarship is awarded annually to female junior or senior students pursing a major in pre-medicine. Since the scholarship was created, 58 Ohio Wesleyan students have benefited from it. Awards vary based on financial need.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 40 states and 45 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.