Named scholarships

When it comes to earning a college degree, the greatest obstacle can be funding.

For this reason, The University of Akron is pleased for the opportunity each year to assist talented, deserving students achieve their dreams, thanks to more than 1,300 named scholarships established through the kindness and generosity of thousands of UA alumni and friends, corporations, and foundations.

Scholarships truly are the best way to ensure that today’s students persist to graduation. Scholarships allow students to enroll full time and remain focused on their studies; they also reduce drop-out rates, decrease the stress of student loans, and shorten the road to graduation.

The need for scholarships grows each year, however, as students continue to face an increased financial burden in pursuit of a college degree. In fact, 94 percent of today’s baccalaureate students borrow to pay for college – versus just 45 percent in 1993. Across the country, the average college-related debt for borrowers in the class of 2016 was $37,172; for Ohio students, that figure was $30,239.

If you are interested in making a significant contribution to student success, please consider a gift to the MAKING A DIFFERENCE AND MOVING FORWARD scholarship campaign, which is the University's most important initiative. You may also establish a named scholarship at The University of Akron, which can be created to honor a living person, in memory of a loved one, or to contribute to the growth of an area of study.

To learn more, please contact the Department of Development at 330-972-7238

How do I apply for a scholarship?

This is not the page to apply for scholarships.

Students who want to apply for scholarships should visit the scholarship page on the Financial Aid site.

The Department of Development does not accept applications for or distribute scholarships. Scholarships are distributed through the University’s Office of Student Financial Aid.

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Olson, Dr. Irving J. and Ruth B. Photography Scholarship for the School of Art

The Dr. Irving J. and Ruth B. Olson Photography Scholarship for the School of Art was established in January 2014 by Dr. Irving J. Olson. In creating the scholarship, Dr. Olson celebrates the passion for photography he shared with his late wife, Ruth, and acknowledges The University of Akron for bestowing upon him its highest honor – an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters – which recognizes his sterling career and noteworthy life achievements. Dr. Olson received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on the occasion of his 100th birthday, which he celebrated on November 26, 2013.

A student during the Great Depression, Dr. Olson studied engineering and business at The University of Akron in the early 1930s, albeit for an extremely brief period of time. Early in his academic career, he was informed by the College of Engineering’s dean, Frederic E. Ayers, that he was not making the grade and that he should change his major to accounting. Dean Ayers never asked Dr. Olson whether or not he liked accounting – he simply transferred him to the College of Business. Within a short period of time – less than a semester – it became quite clear to Dr. Olson that accounting wasn’t to his liking either. Unhappy about the situation, Dr. Olson did what any other rising-star entrepreneur might do – he dumped all his papers and books on Dean Ayers’ desk and left the University to focus on his own already burgeoning business.

Dr. Olson’s decision to leave the University ultimately brought him extraordinary success – in business, in the arts, and in life. An astute businessman, Dr. Olson had begun printing commercially at the age of 13 and repairing radios by age 14. By merging his two businesses, Dr. Olson created a mail-order business in his father’s garage. Upon his departure from The University of Akron, he opened a radio repair shop in the back of his father’s Akron, Ohio, barber shop. His brothers, Sidney and Philip, joined him when he moved to a “real” store. Under Dr. Olson’s prudent leadership, the business expanded into Olson Radio Warehouse, which then became Olson Electronics, a mail-order business that grew to nearly 100 stores nationwide.

On the occasion of his 50th birthday in 1963, Dr. Olson officially retired from the industry, having sold his thriving business to Teledyne Industries. After his retirement, Dr. Olson pursued many interests, including his long-standing passion for photography.

Together with his beloved wife of more than 71 years, Dr. Olson traveled to more than 125 countries in pursuit of captivating images. He is an award-winning photographer whose work is on display in his hometown of Akron at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall and Summa Health System’s Akron City Hospital; in Tucson, Ariz., at the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra and the Jewish Federation Northwest office; nationally at the Smithsonian and the Hearst Foundation; and in private collections worldwide.

At age 100, Dr. Olson’s photography has taken a decidedly scientific turn as he creates “water drop” photographs. He has outfitted his kitchen to shut out all light so that when he sets up his digital camera, he can capture the instant when two or three drops of water collide. By adding color to the water, he can produce vivid abstract images. Some of Dr. Olson’s “water drop” photographs can be found in the Olson Research Laboratory (formerly an Olson Electronics warehouse) on The University of Akron campus.

When he was a young child, Dr. Olson received a Brownie box camera as a gift. From the novice with a Brownie camera to the practiced eye of a seasoned photographer, Dr. Olson has a love for the art of photography that has never waned. He notes that photography interests him “because it is magic.” Another thing that has never waned, despite his not earning a college diploma more than 80 years ago, is his belief in the value of higher education. Reflecting on his honorary degree, Dr. Olson noted, “being awarded the doctorate means I have not lived in vain.”

Having generously established The Ruth and Irving Olson Art Student Reward Fund at The University of Akron to ensure that deserving students studying graphic design and digital imaging have an opportunity to achieve their dreams, Dr. Olson once again has chosen to assist photography students in the School of Art through The Dr. Irving J. and Ruth B. Olson Photography Scholarship. In doing so, he challenges students not only to follow their dreams but, through their art and service to their community, to make a difference so that they, too, shall not have lived in vain.

The purpose of The Dr. Irving J. and Ruth B. Olson Photography Scholarship is to provide an academic scholarship to one or two photography students in The University of Akron’s School of Art.  In this regard, The Dr. Irving J. and Ruth B. Olson Photography Scholarship may be used to help defray the cost of tuition and fees.

In selecting The Dr. Irving J. and Ruth B. Olson Photography Scholarship recipients, consideration will be given to sophomore, junior and senior applicants who are actively involved in the life of The University of Akron, School of Art, and/or the community; have potential for future success; and are working to help pay for their University of Akron tuition. The Dr. Irving J. and Ruth B. Olson Photography Scholarship is renewable for students who maintain all scholarship requirements. The University of Akron’s School of Art Scholarship Committee, with approval from the director of the School of Art and in consultation with The University of Akron Office of Student Financial Aid, will select the recipients of The Dr. Irving J. and Ruth B. Olson Photography Scholarship.

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