Antiochian Leader

PhDLC Alumni Giving: A Community That Cares

Between June 2020 and January 2021, 48 alumni (with a few current students in the mix too) donated to PhDLC scholarship funds. That comes to approximately 20% of our alumni body. WOW! That is more than 2.5 times the national average. In actual dollars, we raised $86,500 during these past six months. We also now have 23 multi-year pledges. Thank you to each and every one of you. No matter how large or how small, your donation is helping current and future students obtain their PhD and we are deeply appreciative. 

Based on a US News & World Report (December 6, 2020) average alumni giving rates during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic years was 8%, according to an annual survey of over 1400 schools. It is important to note that seven of the top 10 institutions with the highest giving rates (of over 40%) are elite liberal arts colleges. The survey focuses on giving to one’s undergraduate institution. 

Interestingly, there is very little information I could find on alumni giving patterns to their graduate schools. One recent dissertation, K. Fleming’s Examining the Influence of Graduate Student Experiences on Graduate Alumni Giving concluded that giving is indeed affected by students’ experiences in graduate school as well as their personal characteristics (e.g. gender, financial capacity). These are both powerful factors that influence alumni giving. However, most notable to me was that Fleming concludes that alumni experiences as alumni had the most substantial influence on giving. Alumni are also very affected by their perception of their institution and not only their direct experience. 

I take that to mean that if an Antioch PhDLC alum perceives that their graduate school is doing the things it should be doing, in our case, educating pro-inclusive anti-racist leaders who engage in research and practice to improve the lives of the organizations and communities they serve, then they are more likely to give. I’m heartened by this perspective and hope the outpouring to date reflects our alumni’s belief that we are doing what we should be doing and ‘winning victories for humanity,” large and small. 

The PhDLC now offers seven different scholarships and research funds, which blows my mind. My first focused alumni ask was seven years ago in a pizza restaurant in Dayton. You know who you are. Thank you.

Several of our funds are relatively new and have been set up BY individual alumni to honor loved ones while at the same time focusing on areas of deep interest and passion. Below are two brief interviews with two current scholarship founders. 


Dr. David McLean, PhD. (Cohort 10)

Q: David, you have set up this Joanne E McLean Scholarship in Leadership to support international students who have both need and merit. Can you share what it means to you to be able to set up this way of honoring Joanne and how you feel it honors her? 

My wife, Joanne, was a very special individual. Amongst her qualities were her highly intuitive nature, her empathy and her ability to listen well. These qualities stood out in each relationship she developed, and were foundational in her professional life as a leadership coach. Like many of us, she had experienced working within organizations encumbered by poor leaders, so dedicated the last 20 years of her career to improving those workplaces. As I entered the Antioch program in 2010, Joanne began attending residencies with me. She loved the meaningful conversation and connected with the people, both students, spouses and faculty. I know, at some level, she wished she were a student of the program. Now, nearly three years since her passing, I find myself in a position to recognize her in a way that would see others benefit from the Antioch experience. It’s as though her light is shining on the path of deserving souls, to allow them and their own light to illuminate the shadows of our world. It is, I believe, a fitting tribute to a life well-lived.

Q: The timing to establish this amazing scholarship also had to do with you wanting to recognize your dissertation chair and fellow Canadian, Elizabeth Holloway, as she steps down from her fulltime professorship in the program. Could you share some of the ways that Elizabeth contributed to your growth, professionally and personally. 

When I learned that Elizabeth would be stepping down from her full-time professorship at Antioch, the emotions I experienced were bittersweet. Joyful for her legacy of leadership and friendship, and yet a bit sad that the Antioch I experienced would not be quite the same. Elizabeth was more than a faculty member to me. She was and is a sage, a trusted friend and mentor, and a fellow Canadian who could relate to some of the nuanced differences in American and Canadian culture. She helped me to examine and embrace those differences and to understand the opportunity to learn from each. 

Q: You were a member of Cohort 10, whew, over a decade ago! As you think back on your experiences in the PhDLC, what would you hope for its future students particularly those who are recipients of this scholarship? 

My hope for all students would be that they continue to research, to question, to challenge and to immerse themselves in understanding the big societal issues that we face today. And when neck-deep in that muck and mire, to hold fast and to declare their truth. And for those receiving this scholarship, it is our hope that it helps to ensure your voice is heard.


Dr. Mike Valentine, PhD (Cohort 12)

Q: Mike, you have set up this Valentine Research Fund to support students doing action research dissertations with marginalized communities. Can you share what it means to you to be able to set this up to honor your father and the ways it honors him?

My dad was a big part of who I am today. He lived his life by quietly reaching out to help others. When I look at how fortunate I have been in my life I realize that the success I have enjoyed comes in part from the gifts my dad gave to me growing up. I understand that those gifts come with a responsibility to give back. My Dad made a difference as a firefighter, working in one of the most distressed parts of New York and took the time to mentor kids that needed help and someone to look up to. I hope through my mentoring of Antioch students I can help them develop the tools to make a difference as well. 

Q: You were a member of Cohort 12, whew, almost a decade ago! As you think back on your experiences in the PhDLC, what would you hope for its future students particularly those who are recipients of this scholarship? 

Simply, that they never forget that with their accomplishment comes a responsibility. That they see the skills they develop as leaders and scholars while at Antioch, as an opportunity to give a gift back, to make a positive difference in some small way, in some part of the world that needs it.

Recent Contributions as a percent of total giving in past six months

Joanne E. McLean Scholarship for Leadership
Founders’ Scholarship Fund
Home Stretch Fund
The Student Engagement Fund
The Matt McGrath Scholarship
The Ruth Weisman and Mayneal Wayland Scholarship
The Valentine Action Research Fund

Not ALUMNI Yet, and Still They WANTED to GIVE

single stroke outline of a hand with a heart rising from it.
Cohort 17 students together

And then there is this amazing story. One day I received an email from a group of Cohort 17 members as they approached the conclusion of their third year (last year, in the first months of the pandemic).They had an idea. They wanted to help others have powerful cohort experiences, building relationships that happen at residencies over dinner or drinks or in hotel lounges or AirBnBs, and they knew from their own experience that sometimes a simple dinner with others was prohibitive and some peers might need to skip the informal out-of-classroom bonding because they didn’t have the available financial resources. They worried about cohort friends who went back to the hotel room with yogurt, not because they were introverts needing time alone but because they had insufficient extra dollars to spend over drinks. We worked together to come up with a plan and although not alumni YET, more than 16 members of Cohort 17 have already contributed to or pledged to contribute to the newly established Student Engagement Fund (SEF). The intention is to build the SEF up with regular contributions and once we return to post-pandemic onsite residencies, funds will be available for pre-candidacy students who have financial need to be able to fully engage with peers in those important non-classroom activities.

Roz Cohen, one of the original SEF contributors shared, “I can’t express how close our cohort (C17) has become. While some of that cohesion was built into the program (i.e. residencies, small group discussions), most of it happened outside of the classroom; it was the dinners together, the sharing of housing during residency, the ability to get together and share time and space. We built a level of trust, respect, and I would say, love, that has helped us through some very difficult personal times as well as with our research and scholarship. This has been an amazing gift. It was from this experience that we decided to create this fund to allow future cohorts to create this type of experience and provide the support, love, and cohesion that is so important.”

Another Cohort member, Felix Alonso noted, “The Leadership and Change PhD cohort model promotes collegiality, interdependence, networking and camaraderie among students for a lifetime. Engaging with members of my cohort outside of the classroom has been an invaluable experience and I hope this fund can help future students stretch and grow together.”

Cohort member Renee Bradford added, “The Antioch community distinguishes itself by developing strong community connections with students through residential experiences. As a cohort, we wanted to remove barriers to fully participate in residencies. I hope that the generosity of C17 positively impacts the journey of future cohorts so that every student has the opportunity to enjoy the most critical years of community building – together.” Finally, Katie Lampley, another C17er shared, “I know the PhD is the ultimate goal but I have already gained so much that it is time for me to start giving back. This is just one way I can do that and it gives me so much joy.”

Alumni and Students who have given to our scholarship funds in 2020.

Thank you!!!

For those alumni who haven’t given recently,

PLEASE consider it.

Or if you would like to talk with Laurien about setting up a multi-year pledge, please email [email protected].

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