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NKU Breaks Down Impact of Gifts from Oakley & Eva Farris

Oakley and Eva G. Farris have been kind to Northern Kentucky University.

Their names adorn an amphitheater, an auditorium, a reading room, and the lobby of the impressive Griffin Hall, home of the unversity's ambitious College of Informatics. The Farrises also commissioned a statue of a young Abraham Lincoln that overlooks the entrance of Chase College of Law. The statue, "serves as a symbol of hard work and commitment to education," said NKU President Geoffrey Mearns.

But the money used towards those infrastructure and esthetics projects is only part of what the Covington philanthropists have done for NKU students.

The university created a special document outlining just how far the couple's dollars have stretched in helping students achieve. Since 2002, more than 550 students at the Haile/US Bank College of Business have been named Farris Scholars after receiving awards from the Eva G. Farris Business Scholarship Endowment Fund. "Your support allows these Farris Scholars to concentrate on their studies, relieving the financial pressure on their families," Mearns said in the document. "Your gift empowers them to succeed."

In twelve years, $622,380 has been awarded to 550 Farris Scholars. In all, the Farrises have donated $3,641,698 to the Highland Heights campus, with more than $2 million dedicated to student success programs, $900,000 for the College of Informatics, and the remainder to improving the campus environment.

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Oakley & Eva G. Farris Donor Impact Report/RCN

Giving in Support of Student Success

One story featured in the document is that of Christina Pinelli, a longtime bartender who decided to go back to school. Armed with a passion for math, Pinelli was aware that there would be challenges: time, money, and the fact that she would be older than her classmates. 

"It has been a difficult transition," Pinelli said in the document. "I am doing it all on my own. I am working and going to school. It is hard to juggle monetarily and I sometimes feel like I don't fit in because I have been out of school for ten or fifteen years. But I love it."

Then she became a Farris Scholar, an award that has alleviated the financial burden. "It made me want to cry when I got it," she said. "I am not sure they realize how much this means to me. Donors always say that we (as students) inspire them, but they inspire us. They give us hope that success isn't so far off, that it is attainable."

Pinelli currently maintains a 3.67 grade point average.

Staff report

Photo: Oakley & Eva G. Farris/provided