Family continues a legacy of supporting students

Gloria McElhaneyWhen Harold (Mack) McElhaney and his wife Gloria, BSHSS ’83, moved to Athens in 1978, the Appalachia natives felt right at home. Mack was Ohio University’s new athletic director, and the fresh start gave Gloria the opportunity to chase her dream of completing higher education to become a teacher. At the age of 42, with two children, Mary Lynne and Jeffrey, in college and eighth-grader Kellie at home, Gloria enrolled full-time at OHIO as a “nontraditional” student. Comparing grade point averages became a competitive family event for Gloria, Mary Lynne and Jeffrey. Without fail, Gloria, who was known to over-highlight textbooks because everything was important to her, always earned the highest marks. “She just loved college,” Mack said. “She kept on taking certification courses and going to school.”

Those certifications guided Gloria as she taught at Coolville Elementary School and the Tri-County Career Center in Nelsonville, helping her students who faced various challenges inside and outside of the classroom. “She used to do home visits,” Kellie said, “and really understand the bigger picture of her student’s poverty and what they were going home to so she could understand how they engage.” To ensure her legacy of supporting students in Appalachia would continue, Mack and their children created the Gloria McElhaney Appalachian Scholar Success Fund shortly after Gloria passed away in 2021.

The fund supports students participating in the Appalachian Scholars Program, a merit and need-based scholarship program for high school graduates residing in one of Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties. The Gloria McElhaney Appalachian Scholar Success Fund provides financial relief for routine, emergency or other expenses such as books, computers, travel abroad, research activities, leadership conferences and other academic expenses. Mack, who calls his gift through an endowment an investment, decided to give through a qualified charitable distribution—a gift vehicle that reduces taxes for those required to take minimum distributions from their IRA.

Knowing his investment would not reach students right away, Mack made an additional gift so Gloria’s legacy could continue without pause and students could be immediately impacted. “Her help goes on and on in perpetuity, and that’s what we were looking for in this investment,” Mack said. “It’s a gift, but it’s an investment in young people who Gloria helped and will continue to help people in the Appalachia area. And, it’s an award that hopefully my family will continue to give to over the years.” “