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Honoring Friendship through Scholarship

News Type Public Address

Michael and LeAnn Gillette meet with Sen. John and Annie Glenn at the National Archives in 2002.

By Joan Slattery Wall

When Michael Gillette was director of the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., a staff member for Sen. John Glenn sought his advice about what to do with Glenn’s senate and space records and memorabilia.

Thus began a long-term relationship between Gillette and his wife, LeAnn, and John and Annie Glenn. From moving the records to Ohio State, to celebrating family weddings and birthdays together, to the establishment of the institute that eventually became the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, the two families developed an endearing connection over two decades.

Wanting to both honor the Glenns and support Glenn College undergraduate students, the Gillettes have established the Michael and LeAnn Gillette Scholarship Fund for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. 

Join the Gillettes in supporting Glenn College student scholarships by giving to the student support fund, which awards thousands of dollars in support each year, or contact Stephanie Mohr, senior development officer, at 614-292-8758 to discuss ways to establish your own named current use or endowed scholarship fund.

“Our kids are out of college now, the house is paid for, we’re both retired. We’ve reached a stage in life where we don’t have lot of crying financial needs,” Michael Gillette said. “We really believe in the college and particularly what first Charlie Wise and now (Dean) Trevor (Brown) have done to put the college at the very front of schools of public affairs, emerging as one of the leading schools in the country and beyond.”

With qualified charitable distributions from their individual retirement accounts (IRAs), the Gillettes have pledged $100,000 over four years to permanently endow the scholarship. Once fully endowed, the scholarship will be awarded annually and follow one or two students who demonstrate financial need through each of their four years of undergraduate studies. 

“I just want students to be able to concentrate on their studies more than worrying about having to work as much through school. Hopefully this will alleviate that burden,” LeAnn Gillette said. 

“We’re particularly interested in students getting undergraduate work in public service and public affairs so they will be good citizens and even, hopefully at some point, be employed by the local or state or federal government,” Michael Gillette added. 

We need good public employees, and we hope lot of these graduates will pursue government service at some level.

Michael Gillette

The Gillettes’ gift was enhanced with a match to donors who committed $100,000 to establish or grow an undergraduate endowment fund through the university’s Scarlet and Gray Advantage program. The goal of the program is to empower eligible Ohio State students to earn their bachelor’s degrees debt free.

The Gillettes, both with degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, are strong supporters of public education. They know the wonderful things state universities do for the cities and states where they are located. LeAnn Gillette retired as senior director of development at the University of Texas at Austin. Michael Gillette, in addition to his work at the National Archives, worked two decades at his alma mater at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum and, later, as executive director of Humanities Texas.

When Michael Gillette joined the Glenn College Board of Distinguished Visitors, Sen. Glenn was still chairman of the board. Glenn made good on a promise of an exciting upcoming board meeting: a visit to an aircraft carrier.

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Glenn College graduate Leslie Gant established a scholarship for the college’s Washington Academic Internship Program, supporting a student whose goal is to make a difference in people’s lives.

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“He did engineer that with the Navy as only he could have done and informed us the next meeting would be in San Diego and include one of the nation’s most modern aircraft carriers,” Michael Gillette said.

The board, including John and Annie Glenn, flew 80 miles out into the Pacific Ocean and landed on the USS John C. Stennis, named after a senate colleague of Glenn’s.

“We spent the whole day watching takeoffs and landings from the carrier, and of course the sailors were thrilled to have John Glenn visit,” he said. “It was a big day for everyone aboard.”

The Gillettes have a great appreciation for the Glenn College and said they are happy to see their gift allocated to help students.

“We feel we owe Sen. Glenn on many levels,” LeAnn Gillette said, “so a contribution is small in the scheme of things but important to us that we give back, too.”

Read the latest edition of Public Address, the Glenn College magazine.