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Ensuring the Call to Service

News Type Public Address

By Deidre Woodward

A chance conversation with Clint Oster, who at the time was the founding director of the School of Public Administration at The Ohio State University, changed everything for Jeanine Eilers Decker, MPA ’78. She would go on to begin her career pathway; find love and a life partner in fellow cohort and graduate assistant Lance Decker, MPA ’78; and connect with a real sense of joy for learning. 

Recently, the pair, who wed in 1978, named the John Glenn College of Public Affairs as a beneficiary of their will through a trust dedicated to general operating support of the college. 

Trusting her instincts and asking for advice created opportunity for Jeanine Decker as a student. 

“I had finally decided that I enjoyed graduate school more than my job,” she said. “I went to see Dr. Oster and said, ‘I have quit my job to attend this program and have no source of income, do you have any advice for me?’” Oster’s answer was to offer Decker a graduate assistantship on the spot.  

“I had no idea what was waiting on the other side of that assistantship. When I think about it, I get ecstatic over the mind expansion that happened for me during that time. It was truly the first time I felt joy while learning, and it continued with gaining phenomenal professional lessons in my work with the school,” she added.  

After graduating with her MPA, Jeanine Decker went on to become the assistant director of the program under Oster’s leadership. During her tenure, she discovered the importance of general operating support for higher education.  

“The current faculty and administration know best about the needs of the college and can choose to spend it in ways that are most beneficial to keep it healthy, stable and effective,” she said. “Scholarships are hugely important, but so are the day-to-day administrative and staff needs. This type of support is a critical foundation to get the job done, and that’s why Lance and I decided to contribute in this way.”  

Both Jeanine and Lance Decker went on to enjoy distinguished public service careers in the private and nonprofit sectors. She retired in 2012 as employee relations manager for the state of Arizona. His 25 years of public service spanned Ohio, Iowa and Arizona. He managed the corporate strategic planning process for the City of Phoenix and is a lecturer and conference speaker at the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University.  

Make a Gift

Want to learn more about naming the John Glenn College of Public Affairs as a beneficiary of your will through a trust? Please contact Stephanie Mohr, Glenn College senior director of development, at or explore ways to make an impact through estate and gift planning.

Jeanine Decker said she often reminisces about her last moments serving as the first assistant director of the graduate program.

“I was sitting in my office at Hagerty Hall when the (Orton Hall) chimes started to play, and I began to cry. A student walked in and said how sorry he was that I was leaving. All I could do was look back at him and say, ‘I am too,’” she said. “I have lived my whole life loving Ohio State. My mother and father attended the university; Lance and I earned two degrees as Buckeyes. We are delighted to support the Glenn College to ensure there is always a place for those answering the call to serve.”