Westerville News & Public Opinion

Record fundraising year at Otterbein

Knowlton gift will mean renaming Equine Center

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

A $1.5-million gift from a Cincinnati-based foundation will bring a new name to Otterbein University's equine center.

The center, which opened in 2009, will become the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Equine Science following the donation from the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation.

A dedication for the center has been scheduled during the university's homecoming Sept. 22.

The donation has been placed into an endowment to support and maintain the equine science center and its programs, the university said.

"In addition to physical maintenance, this gift will allow us to grow and maintain our sustainability and community outreach programs, which have served as the foundation for meaningful partnerships with local citizens, schools and organizations over the past three years," Otterbein Equine Science Department Chairwoman Sheri Birmingham said.

According to the university, Austin E. Knowlton was an architect and who ran a construction company in Ohio. He built more than 600 buildings and invested in commercial real estate.

Knowlton was a minority owner of the Cincinnati Reds and helped build Riverfront Stadium. He was co-founder of the Cincinnati Bengals and was the team's largest shareholder and chairman of the board for 20 years.

Knowlton was an equine enthusiast who raised champion American Saddlebred horses at his Emerald Farms, 11 miles north of Otterbein's equine science center. He raced thoroughbred horses and was a trustee of the Little Brown Jug Society.

Knowlton also was connected to education; his company built, designed and financed more than 160 college buildings across Ohio, as well as more than 200 elementary and secondary schools.

Ohio State University, Knowlton's alma mater, renamed its School of Architecture after him in 1994, following a donation by Knowlton.

Otterbein also has received a $1-million donation from the Colorado-based Pioneer Fund to establish the Lewis E. Myers Scholarship.

Myers was a 1907 graduate of Otterbein and father of the fund's founder, Helen Myers McLoraine.

Myers was known for his support of education and established Lewis E. Myers and Co., which developed and produced educational books and equipment.

The donation will establish a permanent scholarship fund for students pursuing bachelor's degrees in education.

The university said it saw record-breaking fundraising this summer.

In addition to the Pioneer Fund and Austin E. Knowlton Foundation donations, Otterbein closed its 2012 fiscal year with record-breaking annual fund totals.

On top of the $2.5 million Knowlton and Pioneer foundation gifts, the university received 4,150 donations totaling another $827,679.

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