The Ohio State University College of Social Work is pleased to announce the establishment of the Donna Theresa and Preston V. McMurry Jr. Scholarship Fund, effective February 2020. The scholarship supports social work students who make a commitment to support survivors of domestic violence. The first scholarship was awarded this spring to MSW student Lucy Hennon for the 2020–21 academic year.
“I plan to use my coursework and training to further educate myself on direct support for victims and survivors through inclusive, trauma-informed and survivor-led approaches,” says Hennon. “I feel immensely privileged and fortunate to be selected as a scholarship recipient and want to express my gratitude and excitement to Preston McMurry, Jr. and the College of Social Work.”
McMurry (BSSW ’60) established the Donna Theresa and Preston McMurry, Jr. Scholarship Fund to create an immediate impact on furthering the pool of social workers who commit to working in the field of domestic violence by supporting their education.
Endowing this scholarship is McMurry’s latest investment in responding to domestic violence and is the product of his decades long commitment to survivors of violence.
In 1992, McMurry established Theresa’s Fund, a private family foundation that has raised over $49,000,000 to combat child abuse and family violence in Arizona. In August 2014, Preston and his son, Chris, launched DomesticShelters.org, an innovative and comprehensive online platform focused on persons threatened by family violence and those who are supporting them. As the first searchable online database of resources for persons experiencing domestic violence, DomesticShelters.org has had a profound impact. The website now averages 3,000,000 visits annually and has a wealth of resources and support. The College of Social Work is highly supportive of DomesticShelters.org and will continue to partner with the McMurrys to further engage its faculty and students, and to help advance the impact of the important program.
“My father started his work on domestic violence by creating Theresa’s Fund around 1990, almost three decades ago, when domestic violence wasn’t yet a public conversation,” says Chris. “He’s always sought innovative ideas that mix raising awareness with his soft spot for young people and successful futures.”
Domestic violence is often a silent problem. Victims are fearful of retribution and experience shame and embarrassment due to their situation, all of which makes it difficult to seek help. During the current COVID-19 crisis, reports of domestic violence to public safety officials has sky-rocketed as has the number of visits to domestic violence websites and calls to hotlines. Stay-at-home orders, economic losses and other factors lead to increased stress and sometimes additional violence. As the world continues to enter circumstances it has never before experienced, new spikes in domestic violence may likely continue.
Preston McMurry, of Phoenix, is also founder of the McMurry Scholar Athlete Citizenship Award, which started in 2008 to honor student-athletes with a minimum 3.0 GPA and who performed significant community service. He made his first substantial philanthropic commitment to the college in 2008.
In 1984, he created one of the largest privately owned marketing firms in the nation, McMurry, Inc.—the only company in the U.S. to be selected by the San Francisco-based Great Place to Work Institute, as one of the ten best places to work, eight years in a row.
In reflecting upon this gift and McMurry’s career, Dean Tom Gregoire observed, “I have great affection and gratitude for Preston McMurry, and I consider him a friend and a mentor. Preston’s entire career has been informed by a deep commitment to values we hold dear as social workers, and to action on behalf of others.”