During a ceremony at the University of Findlay on Wednesday, Sept. 21, the University celebrated a gift of $1 million from the TLB Foundation to support the Center for Student Life currently under construction and scholarships for students demonstrating Christian values and leadership. Originally founded through the sale of Solomon Software based in Findlay, Ohio, the foundation was represented by officers, Jack Ridge and Gary Harpst. They presented a check to University trustees inside the Davis Street Building lobby, which has a view of the construction site.
“The TLB Foundation’s support for emerging Christian leaders on our campus enhances our ability to help them flourish,” said President Katherine Fell, Ph.D. “The University of Findlay is dedicated to helping students discover their vocation, whether it’s serving as an occupational therapist, business leader or teacher. For those who long to better understand how their calling aligns with a life of Christian faith, Findlay stands ready and eager to support them.”
The gift will create the TLB Foundation Christian Leadership Room in the new building and substantially increase the value of the University’s current TLB Foundation Christian Service Scholarship.
The TLB Foundation Christian Leadership Room will provide a dedicated fellowship area for the growing number of students involved with Christian leadership at Findlay. “This new space is a way for the University to acknowledge its Christian roots and offer a foundational worldview that is relatable to students. As students decide what worldview to take themselves, we want them to be exposed to the clear claims of Jesus Christ,” explained Ridge.
Harpst added, “The room is a symbolic statement that spirituality is a part of student life, and it affects the decisions students make as scholars and later in their professional lives. We see this as a contribution to the continued progress at the University that will support and accelerate further development. We also hope this commitment draws attention to what’s happening here and inspires more people to integrate their faith into everyday life.”
Also, the TLB Foundation Christian Service Scholarship will grow significantly with this gift. The fund has supported 10 students this year, allowing them to focus on their education and experiences at Findlay rather than their finances. Established in 2013, the scholarship allows students who have financial need to grow into Christian leaders through UF’s Campus Ministries, mentorship and community involvement. “Students don’t always recognize the influence that they have,” said Ridge. “They are in a unique position to act as disciples and share their beliefs with their peers. The scholarship gives them the opportunity to grow as Christian Leaders, to claim the ground they are standing on and recognize the impact they can have.”
“This scholarship gives attention to young men and women who want to combine their Christian values and scholarly work,” said Harpst. “Many schools are moving away from their religious roots or even becoming antagonistic toward those values. The University of Findlay is unique in its vision to remain true to its Christian foundation and to openly encourage people of all faiths and values to attend. Christ called his followers to ‘go into the whole world.’ At some schools with Christian affiliations, students are only exposed to other Christians and one set of principles. At Findlay, students aren’t isolated; they are exposed to multiple cultures and ideas. They are challenged to think about their values and beliefs and apply them to the choices they make in their lives,” said Harpst.
Founded on those same values of personal faith, civic mindedness and scholarly achievement by the Churches of God, General Conference and the City of Findlay in 1882, the University of Findlay remains grounded in the Christian faith. Most recently, campus has seen an increase in opportunities for students who want to serve as Christian leaders. According to Matthew Ginter, director of Campus Ministries, there were just three active faith-based student groups on campus in 2010. Today, there are 20 student-organized groups that have involvement from hundreds of UF students. “These groups create many opportunities for Christ-centered student worship, ministry, service and study, resulting in plenty of opportunities for involvement, including chances to assume leadership roles,” explained Ginter.
The name of the foundation recalls the first name of Solomon Software, TLB, Inc. (The Lord’s Business). According to Ridge, the name was chosen to remind the founders—Ridge, Harpst, and Vern Strong—who truly owns the business and later, the foundation—to support the Christian Church in pursuit of its mission to make disciples.