Larry and Caron Ogg had a vision for graduate students in the sciences when they approached the OSU Foundation and the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences about creating an endowed scholar award. While neither had attended Oregon State or gone into the sciences, they cared deeply about investing in programs that nurture future leaders who are exploring important ocean-related issues.
“Everybody needs to understand the atmosphere, the ocean and how they affect every day of our lives,” Caron says. “We were so impressed with the college and how they were doing nationally.”
Through Caron’s involvement with the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation, the Oggs created Oregon State’s first ARCS endowed scholar award in partnership with CEOAS. Established in 1958, the ARCS Foundation is a nationally recognized nonprofit started and run entirely by women who aim to advance science and technology. The endowment will support CEOAS graduate students in perpetuity, allowing recipients to take advantage of opportunities that may have otherwise been unattainable. Several other colleges at Oregon State now offer a similar ARCS endowed scholar award.
“It allows Oregon State to recruit the best and brightest here,” Larry says. “If they can offer students a little extra money, that could be the thing that makes them come down to Corvallis.”
Building relationships with recipients
Caron has been involved in leadership positions with the ARCS Foundation both nationally and through the Oregon chapter, which was incorporated in 2004. Since that time, the chapter has supported 225 graduate students with scholar awards totaling $3.7 million.
Caron says the organization is unique because scholars and donors have an opportunity to make a connection and establish rapport. The Oggs, for example, recently attended the Ph.D. defense of CEOAS ARCS scholar, Liz King (pictured above).
“Sometimes when you give money, it can go into a black hole. With ARCS, you get to know the scholar, and I think it’s really important to have a relationship with them,” Caron says. “Many of our scholars tell us they see us as a support group that is interested in science and what they are trying to achieve. And it’s good for the donors because we get to see these bright students do amazing things.”
Indeed, the Oggs have seen CEOAS students explore every facet of the earth sciences — from climate change to natural hazards. CEOAS ARCS scholars are studying magnetic minerals deep within the ocean floor to unearth important clues about monsoons. They are learning how elements cycle through the environment and connect the air, sea and land. They are using robotic floats to analyze how the marine carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean changes over space and time. Their explorations will help uncover new ideas and innovative approaches to the complex issues of planetary-scale science.
Both Larry and Caron say they are proud to watch students transform from pupil to practitioner.
“The best part is, when the students leave here, you keep in touch and get to see them go off into the world,” says Larry.
A passion for education led to giving
Both Caron and Larry were ardent supporters of higher education well before their involvement with ARCS and Oregon State. For Caron, who grew up in Tacoma, there was no question whether she was going to attend college. “All four of my grandparents are college graduates, including my grandmother on my mother’s side, who majored in chemistry,” Caron says. “It was just ingrained in us that education was important.” While her entire family went to the University of Washington, Caron broke tradition by attending Washington State University in Pullman, earning her degree in interior design in 1968.
Unlike Caron, Larry was the first in his family to attend college — and he is well aware of the opportunities his education afforded him. He majored in business administration at Washington State, where he met Caron. After graduating in 1967, he immediately went into the Marine Corps for a little over four years.
“I got a diploma in one hand and a draft notice in the other,” he says.
Soon after, Larry launched a successful career in banking. He moved up the corporate ladder and retired as president and CEO of Bank of America for Southwest Washington and Oregon after 36 years.
Thinking beyond their alma mater
Besides CEOAS, the Oggs are supporting Oregon State’s Marine Studies Initiative, a university-wide effort to expand our understanding of the marine environment and its importance to society. Caron will take an even more active role in philanthropy at Oregon State in her new role as an OSU Foundation trustee.
Even with their deep commitment to science at CEOAS and Oregon State, Larry and Caron stress that they are WSU Cougars through and through, even beaming when mentioning that both their children graduated from their alma mater. But when it comes to giving, the Oggs are driven by passion more than school colors.
“It doesn’t matter where people graduate,” says Caron. “If there’s a cause that someone’s interested in, why not?”
From Elements, the publication of the OSU College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, 2018