Philanthropy Award

Larry and Shirley CopelandBluffton University presented the Ray Ramseyer Philanthropy Award to Larry and Shirley Copeland of Findlay, Ohio, at the President’s Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 7, recognizing the couple for their dedication, service and philanthropic support. The Copelands have devoted much of their lives to the advancement of Bluffton including philanthropic leadership through numerous campaigns and major gifts which have surpassed $1 million. 

“During my time as president, it has been an honor to know and work with Larry and Shirley Copeland. Larry joined the board of trustees early on in my presidency, and since day one, he and Shirley have demonstrated unwavering passion and support for Bluffton,” said Dr. James Harder, president. “I have greatly appreciated Larry’s openness to sharing his personal story, which includes caring professors – Dr. Howard Raid (business) and Dr. Richard Weaver (science) and others – who gave special encouragement to a young football player who wasn’t sure of his academic path in life. As Bluffton faculty do today, they walked with Larry on his undergraduate journey and beyond until he found his calling in the field of business.”

Larry Copeland, a 1965 graduate, first gave back to Bluffton as an assistant football coach and adjunct professor. As an alumnus, he encouraged others to attend Bluffton. As Larry and Shirley’s business grew, they began sharing their financial resources with Bluffton. Larry joined the board of trustees 12 years ago, and through his work on the advancement committee, he has helped shape efforts to establish TEAM Bluffton that provides annual support for athletics, and provided leadership support for multiple fundraising campaigns including especially Extending Our Reach, the successful $30 million campaign that included funds to construct the Sommer Center for Health and Fitness Education. Copeland Court, Bluffton’s performance venue for intercollegiate basketball and volleyball, recognizes Larry and Shirley’s leadership role as volunteer campaign co-chairs and donors. 

“It’s no secret why I support Bluffton,” said Copeland. “Dr. Howard Raid taught all his students that giving back is an essential part of defining success in business. And Dr. Richard Weaver helped me understand that scientific analysis and experiments apply to achieving success in business and entrepreneurship. So, Shirley and I always want to do our best to support Bluffton’s current students and priorities including the project to build a new science building.” 

The Ray Ramseyer Philanthropy Award was established by the Bluffton board of trustees to publicly recognize individuals and organizations that contribute energy, ideas, time and dollars to make the university’s mission a reality. The award was named in recognition of Ray Ramseyer, class of 1943, for his lifelong commitment to fostering a spirit of philanthropy through personal and professional associations. His work with the YMCA, Berea College, Elmhurst College, the University of California at San Diego and Jonas Salk Foundation has left a legacy highly respected by colleagues—one that inspires a commitment to higher purposes.

The award is presented annually to individuals or organizations nominated by Bluffton’s president or vice president for advancement. The initial award was presented in 2002.