Melanie Webb and Dr. Ron Pitcock
Ron Pitcock, Ph.D.
Texas Christian University
Assistant Dean, John V. Roach Honors College
J. Vaughn and Evelyne H. Wilson Honors Fellow
Director of Prestigious Scholarships
Ron Pitcock’s classes are some of the most sought-after on the TCU campus and his Giving and Philanthropy class in particular often fills up just minutes after registration opens, said his nomination.
The class is unique because it allows students to gain a real world experience that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. The class hands students real money – and it is up to them to determine how they want to allocate it.
Students describe the class as “life changing.”
“For one professor to inspire so many students is truly a rare feat, and Dr. Pitcock is certainly deserving of this award for the impact he creates upon hundreds – if not thousands – of lives,” the nomination said.
In spring 2019, the class foundation granted more than $75,000 to four nonprofits in the Fort Worth/Tarrant County community. Grants went to Hope Farm, Mercy Clinic, CASA and Traffick911.
In 2018, the foundation granted $130,000 to six nonprofits: SafeHaven of Tarrant County; Immunization Collaboration; Gill Children’s Services; Communities in Schools; Arise Africa; and The NET.
Pitcock earned his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in Lexington; his master of arts from Indiana State University in Terre Haute; and his bachelor of arts degree from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
Dr. Pitcock responded to questions from the Fort Worth Business Press.
Describe an initiative where TCU developed a creative and innovative way to raise funds for a Fort Worth/Tarrant County nonprofit or charitable causes:
The Nature of Giving is an upper-division Honors colloquium, concentrates on two primary learning outcomes.
First, students will gain an understanding and appreciation for the meaning/importance of philanthropy. Students will examine the scope and diversity of the philanthropic sector through historical figures like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller and current philanthropists Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who co-founded The Giving Pledge – a challenge directed toward the wealthy to give away a majority of their wealth to charitable causes.
Second, students will solve problems associated with philanthropy by participating in real philanthropic endeavors. Students will research various nonprofit organizations located in both Fort Worth and international locations, visit and conduct interviews, develop various memoranda/briefing notes, and ultimately, in Scharbauer Hall’s Debate Chamber, argue the merits of each organization under consideration.
The course is more about studying philanthropy and then working as a foundation learning how to evaluate nonprofits and then make the difficult decision of giving.
What benefit does TCU receive as a result of its involvement in philanthropy?
I think the benefit of the course impacts multiple main audiences. Here are a few:
• Students of the course.
• Nonprofits who worked with students and went through the process. They work closely with the students.
• Donors who make the course possible. They help fund the course, visit it, and see the process. • People served by the nonprofits funded by the course
How do the students decide which nonprofit to support?
The course is a one-semester experience. Over the course of the first five weeks, studies of current and historical philanthropists will shape how students evaluate the operational strategies and goals of local philanthropies.
Students conduct due diligence research on nonprofit organizations, picking personal favorites and assessing those organizations’ potential suitability for receipt of a grant; … produce and read persuasive written descriptions (briefing documents) about nonprofit organizations and vote for 15 finalist organizations; … divide into teams and complete background research (including on-site visits) on the finalist organizations; present their persuasive arguments for donating either all or a part of the $50,000+ gift to their assigned organization; … debate the merits of each organization and reach a consensus on which five (or fewer) organizations will receive funds.
This final debate lasted over 11.5 hours last spring; the debate started at 3 in the afternoon and finished at 2:45 in the morning.
Anything else you would like to say about this subject?
Few universities offer courses in philanthropy or grant making. An even fewer number offer those courses in areas outside business schools, public policy/management programs, and graduate courses. …
John V. Roach Honors College students taking this course are fortunate to have this class.
Students in this course are also fortunate because TCU Donors like Mr. and Mrs. Jeff and Kelly Dillard, Ed Schollmaier and Eric and Kelly Brenk have taken an interest in the course and support it currently or have supported it in the past financially.
Because of these gifts, TCU students will have the opportunity to both study and practice philanthropy by making substantial grants to a small group of nonprofit organizations.