Ohio State Dental Journal

The Transformational Power of Generosity

Veler Scholars (from left) Jared Ellinger, '18; Nicole Goettemoeller '17; Rachel Cook, '16 DDS; and Joseph W. Pittman, '13 DDS gathered on October 16, 2015 at the Faculty Club. Now, the Veler plaque pictured in the photo hangs in the main lobby on the first floor of Postle Hall.

Two years after Richard Veler ’46 DDS graduated from the College of Dentistry, his first gift to his alma mater was a $10 contribution. In that era, $10 was not a small sum of money. In fact, according to the website "measuringworth.com," ten dollars in 1948 was worth about $100 now. While that amount may still seem like a small gift from a young dentist who was just starting his private practice in post-war Toledo, Ohio, the fact that Dr. Veler and his wife, Betty, wanted to give something back is what really matters. And it’s what sets them apart.

When the Velers' multi-million estate gift was announced in August of 2009, their expressed intention to ‘give something back’ was made known. They established the Richard C. Veler, DDS and Betty G. Veler Scholarship endowment that provides financial support for dentistry students who demonstrate "merit, need, and outstanding moral and ethical character." 

"With the gift of their estate to our college – the largest single gift in the history of this college – Richard and Betty Veler made a difference that will always be remembered.“ – Dean Lloyd

Addressing the first-ever gathering of the college’s Veler Scholars during a dinner held in their honor at the Faculty Club last fall, Patrick M. Lloyd, dean of the College of Dentistry, praised the Velers for their generosity. “The Velers did more than give back. They set a standard and, in a single act of generosity, they followed in the footsteps of some of our country's great givers and philanthropists who, throughout the course of their lives, have given away millions of dollars so they could make the world – or at least their corner of it – a better place."

Dean Lloyd added, "with the gift of their estate to our college – the largest single gift in the history of this college – Richard and Betty Veler made a difference that will always be remembered.“

Joseph W. Pittman, ’13 DDS, who traveled to the dinner from North Carolina where he was completing his certificate in orthodontics at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, spoke of the many ways the Veler Scholarship influenced him. “The impact of this scholarship has been threefold for me,” said Dr. Pittman. “I now look forward to a lower monthly student loan payment, and this affects how I am planning for the future. I have the freedom to explore some practice opportunities that have low initial dividends but greater potential for growth. Second, I am even more of a diehard Buckeye and a proud alumnus of the College of Dentistry. This scholarship shows the college's commitment to invest in their students. The last reason is the one that has impacted me the most. The Veler Scholarship has been a challenge. In dental school when I saw opportunities to take the easy way out, or ways to avoid tough jobs as class president, being the Veler Scholarship recipient pushed me to go above and beyond the already high expectations of a dental student. This is an incredibly selective group and one I want to make proud. I am now more motivated to strive for excellence professionally and personally because I represent the investment that has been made in me.” 

First-generation college student Jared Ellinger ‘18, who at the time of the gathering was the most recent recipient of the Veler Scholarship, spoke of his desire to extend a helping hand to others in need. “One of the biggest challenges facing dentistry today is lack of quality care to underprivileged communities. The Velers' generosity, compassion, and commitment to dentistry inspires me daily to pay it forward by better serving those communities in need.”

Dean Lloyd closed the dinner by challenging the Scholars to follow the Velers' example of making a difference for future generations of dental students. “Because of the many laudable characteristics and qualities that made you deserving recipients of Veler scholarship awards, you are already uniquely positioned to follow in the Velers' footsteps. You understand the transformational power of generosity.”