Thirty years after she graduated, alumna Diane DeLawder still maintains a strong bond with The Ohio State University at Newark today. The Newark resident was named the recipient of the Ohio State Newark Distinguished Alumni Award in a virtual alumni event on November 5.

“As I began my education studying early and middle childhood education, I discovered what would become a lifelong love of this institution,” DeLawder said in a video address. “The professors were engaging, knowledgeable and really made me feel that I could be successful.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1980, DeLawder taught in the Licking Valley School District and then in Lancaster City Schools. In 1993 she began volunteering with A Call to College; three years later she was named executive director. In 2018 she became chair of the governing board. A Call to College is a nonprofit college access organization that partners exclusively with the Newark City School District “to assure every qualified graduate the opportunity to pursue higher education.” The organization provides services and programming, many of which are directly tied to Ohio State Newark, to students from second grade through their senior year. For example, DeLawder and A Call to College partnered with Ohio State Newark as well as Central Ohio Technical College and Denison University in 2009 to develop the PEAK (Providing Early Awareness and Knowledge) Program, which provides more than 800 hours of activities and curriculum for second through eighth graders. A Call to College teamed up again with Ohio State Newark and Denison University plus The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art &Technology in 2013 to launch Kids Tech University, which gives students ages 9 through 12 years old hands-on experience in STEM education.

Ohio State Newark Dean/Director William L. MacDonald explained, “In her role with A Call to College, Diane always made extra efforts to partner with her alma mater, Ohio State Newark, to increase Newark students’ awareness of the great education available practically in their backyard. She stayed in close touch with our enrollment director and our admissions staff, and regularly shared Ohio State Newark information with A Call to College staff and advisors and interested students. “Diane has been an exceptional advocate and benefactor for The Ohio State University at Newark. The impact of her tireless work and generosity will last for generations.”

Many students have continued their education at Ohio State Newark because of the direct efforts of DeLawder through A Call to College. DeLawder praised Enrollment Director Diane Kanney and Financial Aid Director Faith Phillips for making Ohio State Newark a first-choice school among local students. “Even though the university at the time [Delawder was a student] was small, consisting of two buildings, there was a definite sense of community, and I felt I belonged. Through the years, I have remained connected to the Newark area and through my work at A Call to College discovered a strong bond and partnership with others at The Ohio State University at Newark who truly wanted to help students achieve.”

DeLawder served on the Ohio State Newark advisory board from 2010-2019. She and her husband, Daniel, have been generous supporters of the university. From the Next Generation Challenge Scholarship campaign in 2011 to construction of the John and Mary Alford Center for Science in Technology in 2018, the DeLawders have funded both capital projects and scholarships since 1992 as well as being consistent supporters of Ohio State Newark's Pelotonia team.

The Ohio State University Alumni Association recognized DeLawder in 2017. She received the Heinlen Award for university advocacy, which is presented to those who have realized outstanding achievements in advocating the interests of the university. Diane has also served her community in other ways. She currently serves on the Midland Theatre’s Board of Directors, on the Steering Committee for the Boys and Girls Club of Newark, and as Chair of A Call to College’s Governing Board.