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Couple leaves legacy of opportunity for Oakland engineering students

Thursday, June 7, 2012
Couple leaves legacy of opportunity for Oakland engineering students

Christine Wilcox
Oakland University was a magical place to Christine and Ivan Wilcox.

The Wilcoxes, now deceased, were enamored with the beauty of the campus for decades and went horseback riding on the land where Oakland’s campus sits today. Christine Wilcox continued to enjoy OU later in life and bought season tickets to Meadow Brook Theatre for more than 30 years.

Their fondness for the university was among the reasons they decided to provide scholarship support for Oakland students. They also were motivated by empathy. Ivan, who worked for years as an engineer in the automotive industry, had spoken of his own difficulties supporting himself through school.

The couple established the Christine and Ivan Wilcox Endowed Merit Scholarship Fund in 1998. The fund was designed to provide full scholarships once a year to two Oakland University freshman engineering students with high qualifications.

Recipients must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and maintain a full-time schedule. The scholarship is renewable for four years if students keep up their grades and full-time hours.

TLast year, the fund received a $448,000 planned gift from the estate of Christine Wilcox, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 101.

Ivan had passed away a few years after the scholarship fund was established. But because of the couple’s foresight and determination to help OU students, their gift will continue touching lives for years to come.

In the initial years after the couple established the scholarship fund, Christine Wilcox went on to enthusiastically attend graduation ceremonies for the scholarship’s first two recipients, Scott Burgess and Annelies C. Rigole, in 2002.

Burgess expressed gratitude for the scholarship. “Because I had this support, I was able to save money for graduate school,” he said at the time. Burgess, who went on to earn a master’s degree in strategic management from Davenport University, worked for the General Motors Tech Center and later for Chrysler Corp. before becoming the co-owner and CEO of a Michigan-based brewery.

Christine Wilcox once said she and Ivan originally intended to provide only one scholarship a year. But after she reviewed the two candidates for the first scholarship, she couldn’t bear to let one go away empty-handed.

Pictured above: Christine Wilcox