Two endowed scholarships established for biology faculty members


SPRINGFIELD — Two endowed scholarships established for biology faculty members Wittenberg University students interested in studying biology now have two new scholarship opportunities available to them, thanks to a generous gift from an alumnus in honor of beloved faculty members.

Gregg Foster, class of 1980, and his wife, Sandra, recently made two gifts of $100,000 each to the university to endow The Dr. Ronald deLanglade Endowed Scholarship, in honor of retired professor Emeritus of Biology Ron deLanglade, and The Dr. Horton H. Hobbs III Endowed Scholarship, in memory of the late Professor Emeritus of Biology Horton H. Hobbs. The scholarships will assist students studying biology who have financial need.

“While all of my professors at Wittenberg were very good, Dr. Hobbs and Dr. deLanglade made a lasting impression on me,” Foster said. “They both were passionate about their respective areas of expertise, and they made learning enjoyable.”

A nationally known caving expert, Hobbs included Wittenberg students in his research as he surveyed approximately 125 caves in Ohio during his career. The founder and advisor of the Caving Club, now known as the Wittenberg University Speleological Society (WUSS), he retired in 2012 after teaching for 36 years. He passed away in 2016.

deLanglade, who joined the Wittenberg faculty in 1967, established field studies for Wittenberg students in Ohio and the Smoky Mountains, and at the Gerace Research Center in San Salvador, The Bahamas, a popular summer program that continues to this day. He retired in 2008 but occasionally taught courses until just a few years ago.

A biology major at Wittenberg, Foster participated in two summer trips with Hobbs and deLanglade in the late 1970s, visiting aquatic and terrestrial sites in seven states and spending four weeks on San Salvador Island. After graduating from Wittenberg, he studied oceanography and aquaculture at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) before leaving graduate school early to work at Blue Gold Sea Farm in Newport, Rhode Island, where he helped to grow and sell mussels.

From there, Foster joined Merck & Co. Inc. and spent the next 31 years at the pharmaceutical company as a health science consultant primarily working with physicians at medical schools. He taught hospital and specialty representatives and also recruited and trained physicians to serve as speakers for the company.

“I modeled my teaching style and working relationships at Merck on what I learned and observed from Dr. Hobbs and Dr. deLanglade,” he said.

Foster retired at the age of 56 to help care for his ailing father, whose philanthropic support of his own alma mater made an impact on his son.

“A few years after I retired, I realized I had not been back to Wittenberg since 1984,” Foster explained. “I started to think about how well Wittenberg had prepared me for my career in biology, both before and during my career at Merck….My parents had supported their college, Penn State, with gifts and scholarships over the years. My wife, Sandy, and I felt we should support the biology department of Wittenberg in a similar way.”

Believing he was successful in his career because of his Wittenberg education, Foster hopes his current and future gifts will help students continue their education at Wittenberg and be well prepared for careers in a biology-related field, just as he was.

“I also want the students who receive and benefit from these scholarships to take a moment to remember and honor the careers of Dr. Hobbs and Dr. deLanglade as I do,” he said.

Director of Leadership Giving Chris Nelson is confident that the Fosters’ tribute gifts will keep the memories of Hobbs and deLanglade alive for years to come.

“So many alumni talk about Dr. deLanglade’s tree and plant identification course, and exploring caves and the outdoors with Dr. Hobbs,” Nelson said. “Their legacies – the light they passed on – will remain strong through the many biology students who will be impacted by the Fosters’ generosity.”

A luncheon was hosted on campus in March for the Fosters, deLanglade and his family, family members of Hobbs, and the biology department faculty.

“The biology department gratefully thanks Gregg and Sandy for this generous gift that will allow more students to study biology at Wittenberg,” said Jim Welch, professor of biology and department chair. “Our faculty get to work closely with our students in research and in our field programs, and this gift is testimony to the lasting impact that those relationships have on our students.”

Foster hopes his fellow alumni remember their time at Wittenberg as fondly as he does, too.

“I hope they remember the faculty and friends they made and appreciate how well their time at Wittenberg helped prepare them for life and their careers,” he said. “I would tell my fellow alumni that supporting the students, staff, and curriculum at Wittenberg is a very rewarding way to remember their time at Wittenberg. I also encourage all alumni to visit the campus and see how Wittenberg, and the city of Springfield, have grown and how wisely both have used the resources provided to them.”

As a student, Foster was a member and vice president of Phi Mu Delta fraternity, a yearbook photographer, a certified diver, and an active participant in inter-fraternity sports and intramural basketball.

“My memories of Wittenberg, the faculty, and friends I made will always be among my most cherished,” said Foster.

For more information about the scholarships, contact the Office of Advancement at 937-327-7430.

Donations to The Dr. Ronald deLanglade Endowed Scholarship can be made at https://giving.wittenberg.edu/deLanglade.

Donations to The Dr. Horton H. Hobbs III Endowed Scholarship can be made at https://giving.wittenberg.edu/HortonHobbs.