B.A., Speech Communications, Denison University, 1959
Citation awarded June, 2009
With the retirement of Mary Jane McDonald, Denison lost a leader of rare abilities, whose vision and dedication enabled the institution to achieve more than it believed possible. She had oversight of “advancement”—an umbrella term that includes fundraising, alumni and parent relations, public relations, and strategic communication. She was responsible for two highly successful capital fund drives, a strengthened effort to involve alumni and others in the life of the college, and improved marketing for the entire university.
Over the course of her 26-year career with Denison, Mary Jane served five presidents and shaped a comprehensive program that was the envy of other institutions. The monies she raised bolstered the endowment, which stood at a mere $17 million when she began her work. When she retired, the endowment had crossed the $500 million mark before it temporarily gave way to market pressures.
No matter the position, Mary Jane proved to be an exemplary leader—the source of steady, constructive vision that brought major accomplishments to fruition. She has a volunteer association with Licking Memorial Hospital that dates back to 1989 when she joined the board of Licking Memorial Health Systems. She served as board chair, 1991-94. In 1996, Mary Jane was named a Woman of Achievement, one of Licking County’s highest honors. The award recognized her contributions to the hospital as well as to the larger community as chairperson of the Ohio Elections Commissions, 1979-85; board member of Family Service Association, 1980-82; and board member of both the Licking County and State of Ohio United Way. In 2001 she was recognized for a lifetime of achievement and service to the community at Licking Memorial Hospital’s “Taste of the Town Gala.”
More current acknowledgments of her community service include her 2006 selection as one of the first winners of a Park National Bank “Difference-Maker Award”, based on her substantial contributions and “steadfast dedication” to the Heath community and the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority. In 2005 and each year since, as a member of the LMH Development Council, Mary Jane has chaired the “Building a Healthier Community” award selection process.
Mary Jane feels strongly about providing educational opportunities for young people, and has done much volunteer work for a variety of programs, including the Call-to-College Program in the Newark City Schools.