James D. Oelschlager ’64
B.A., Denison University J.D., Northwestern University
Citation awarded May, 1998
Jim Oelschlager is President and Chief Investment Officer of Oak Associates, ltd. in Akron, Ohio. He has combined a distinguished career in investment management with an extraordinary record of community service and philanthropy.
After graduating from Denison, Jim earned the J.D. from Northwestern University. But it was not in the law that Jim was to forge his future. Rather, he accepted an opportunity in 1969 to head a newly-established pension investment fund for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio. Sixteen years later, he and several colleagues started their own company, Oak Associates. Today, Oak Associates is a premier investment firm, offering portfolio management for pension funds, endowments, foundations, and individuals. Two mutual funds established by Oak have been highly acclaimed in the financial world for their outstanding performance. In recent ratings, Money Magazine named Jim the number one portfolio manager in the country.
Jim and his wife, Vanita, his partner in both life and work, regularly host luncheon forums for Oak Associates clients with international dignitaries such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, General Colin Powell, and former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev. They often invite Denison faculty and student to attend, along with other students. Jim and Vanita also support Denison, Mt. Union College (Vanita’s alma mater), and eight other colleges through investment programs which allows students to learn about investing with real money, while competing with each other for the best investment return. In addition to providing seed money for investment, Jim and Vanita host an annual awards banquet which is attended by the collegiate teams. At this banquet, prizes are awarded to the teams with the best performance. Each year Jim hires Denison students as interns, and four have gone on to become full-time employees at Oak Associates.
At Denison this year, the Oelschlagers have provided a significant challenge grant to benefit the Annual Fund. And Jim and Vanita are also long-time supporters of other philanthropic organizations, such as the United Way, The Akron City Hospital, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Jim himself was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1973. His optimism and commitment to achievement in the face of this debilitating disease led to his being named last year to receive the Special Achievement Award of the National MS Society.
Jim is the father of two grown children. His sister, Corinne Oelschlager Potter, is a member of Denison’s Class of 1968. Jimi and Vanita make their home in Akron.