Community Engagement

Advancing Science

Couple creates scholarship for Physical and Life Sciences

A man and woman posing with a mountain range in the background

Joseph Stemple, Ph.D., and Jacqueline Potter

Advancing Oakland

icon of a calendarSeptember 10, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Catherine Ticer

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As undergraduate commuter students living at home, Joseph Stemple, Ph.D., and Jacqueline Potter gained a true appreciation for working hard and staying on course while earning their degrees.

Stemple graduated from OU in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and later earned a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington. Potter, also a scientist, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Central Connecticut
State University.

Both successful in their chosen fields, the couple has made a planned gift that will create a scholarship endowment to support future generations of students. The Joseph Z. Stemple and Jacqueline A. Potter Endowed Scholarship for Physical and Life Sciences will provide renewable student scholarships, up to the amount of full tuition, for full-time undergraduate students pursuing degrees from the departments of chemistry, physics or biology. Recipients will be commuter students who demonstrate financial need, maintain a 3.2 GPA and participate in departmentally sanctioned research-intensive activities within their declared major.

Joseph Stemple describes himself as a less-than-enthusiastic high school student who often skipped class and rarely studied. He credits his education at OU for paving the way for a bright and rewarding future.

“There was something about Oakland that felt like home,” says Stemple, who spent his first year at the university catching up academically and taking remedial classes. He credits three extraordinary professors, Tadeusz Malinski, Willard St. John and Philip Weiss, for taking an interest in his future.

The professors brought him into their labs to assist them with research projects and offered him teaching assistant positions and a summer job at the GM Technical Center in electrochemistry. This mentoring led him to take his education further, later attending graduate school.

Jacqueline Potter, who grew up in a small rural community in Connecticut, was not aware of scholarship opportunities when she attended school.

“I‘m hoping this scholarship makes it easier for students to continue their education,” she says. “I know financial constraints can be a huge stumbling block, both for students who attend college immediately after high school and for students who enter the workforce for some time before enrolling in college.”

The couple, who met while working at Pfizer, now spend their time between homes in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and southwest Utah. Their philanthropic spirit and love of the outdoors have them involved in extensive volunteer work and exploring their beautiful surroundings. Stemple also devotes time to his passion for woodworking and created his own business, Alchemy WoodShop, where he produces and sells handmade furniture and other one-of-a-kind creations. He donates all proceeds to nonprofit organizations.

Learn more about the impact of planned giving by visiting oakland.giftlegacy.com or contacting Colette O’Connor at oconnor@oakland.edu.

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