Students interested in majoring in fashion and retail studies but who lack the resources to complete college can achieve their goals at The Ohio State University. Through a donation by alumna Laurie Dowley, the college has established two new scholarship funds, both called the Make it Count Scholarship Fund for Fashion and Retail Studies.
Since her grandfather, father and nephew, all named Thomas Dowley, as well as her uncle James Dowley, were Ohio State alumni, Dowley said her donation is paying forward, a family tradition.
“You get older and you think, how do you give back? You think about where do you want to give back,” she said. “The university was a place that came to mind.”
Dowley’s donation for her endowed fund will be matched by Ohio State’s Scarlet and Gray Advantage program aimed at reducing student debt. Her other fund will be for immediate scholarship use. Both will focus on supporting students with financial need.
“We thank Laurie Dowley for celebrating her successful career with these generous gifts to her alma mater,” said Dean Don Pope-Davis. “We have many talented students with financial needs who will benefit from this gift to achieve their dream careers in the fashion and retail industry. Her scholarships, coupled with our program’s focus on cutting-edge issues such as sustainability, along with our robust industry networking and internship opportunities, will launch many future leaders in the field.”
College connections launch NYC career
Dowley said earning a bachelor’s degree in what is now called fashion and retail studies in the late 1970s gave her the academic foundation and professional skills to successfully pursue a career in New York City’s highly competitive beauty and fashion industry.
She spent 21 years as a marketing executive with luxury cosmetics brand Elizabeth Arden. She is now a consultant and adviser with beauty and technology company Perfect Corp.
“I look back at my time with great fondness,” Dowley said of her experience at Ohio State. “I was there when we went to the Rose Bowl with Archie Griffin four years in a row. … It was a great time.”
Dowley said a key factor in her decision to establish an endowed scholarship fund at Ohio State was the students’ infectious enthusiasm when she returned to campus as a guest speaker during her tenure with Elizabeth Arden. Dowley said she took pride in passing on her knowledge and expertise to students in the college’s Fashion and Retail Studies program.
“The students had a zillion questions: How do you do it? What are the steps?” to becoming successful in a career path, she said. “It just seemed natural that (establishing the scholarships) would be something that would help the students.”
Dowley credits Ohio State for helping her to get a head start in the business world before she even graduated. As a student, she participated in the college’s internship program. It enabled students to spend a quarter working at a company in their field of study. She obtained a paid internship with Bloomingdale’s department store in New York City, which launched her career in the cosmetics industry.
“Ohio State is a place that was very important to me and gave me so much joy, and it gave me what I wanted out of life: to work in the fashion area,” she said. “It’s great to be back, connected to Ohio State.”