STEUBENVILLE — Eastern Gateway Community College trustee Christine Dennison and her husband, Phillip, have left their mark on the school’s business program.
The Dennisons, Youngstown residents, recently donated $250,000 to establish the Christine and Phillip Dennison School of Business and Leadership, which will officially launch in January, the start of the Spring 2023 term.
“This generous donation from two true community servants in very validating of the work our faculty, staff and students put into ensuring a high-quality business program, both in person and online, is offered at Eastern Gateway,” said EGCC President Michael Geoghegan. “We also hope to inspire our business students, with tremendous role models like the Dennisons, to achieve great things in their careers and in giving back to their communities.”
Geoghegan said by bringing business and related programs, such as accounting, business management and economics, under one banner, “We are certainly looking to build a stronger community for students and connect those in Steubenville with their peers across the country.”
“Additionally, this gift will provide us resources to invest directly into teaching and learning,” he added. “It will help us recruit high quality leadership for the school, as well as provide our faculty with enhanced resources to ensure our students receive a high-quality education.
He said business degrees are among EGCC’s most sought after degree programs — largely as a result of the Gateway Guarantee and its free college partnerships. “As a result, what we are hearing is that students in these programs are less concerned about costs and more about how we can enhance our programs,” Geoghegan said. “That is our goal with this donation.”
Christine Dennison retired from teaching full time eight years in the Marketing Department at Youngstown State University’s Williamson College of Business Administration. She was also a Planned Giving Consultant to both United Way and the Community Foundation of Mahoning Valley and volunteered on the United Way Fund Allocation Committee. She was a board member and chaired a capital campaign for the Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center. Prior to that, she worked 15 years at IBM in Youngstown and Detroit in administration and marketing divisions. She also was a secondary high school teacher for 6 years. She was a member of Leadership Youngstown and an Athena Nominee. She earned her bachelor of arts, summa cum laude at YSU where she also earned an MBA. She earned her master’s in Education at Edinboro University, PA. She was appointed an EGCC trustee in 2015 and currently chairs the board’s Student Success committee.
Phillip Dennison, CPA, is a principal emeritus with Packer Thomas, a regional accounting firm. He is chairman of the Board of the Western Reserve Health Foundation. He also serves as a board member and treasurer of Youngstown Cityscapes, receiving their Grass Roots Award. He is chair of a Committee of Grow Mahoning Valley, East Gate Regional Council of Governments and was a past chair of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce. He chaired a successful, $3 million United Way of Mahoning County Annual Campaign. He also was a member of Leadership Youngstown and earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration from YSU.
“Community colleges are the backbone of our communities, and business and leadership are the heart,” Christine Dennison said. “Giving back to the college that continues to work tirelessly to enhance our communities is an incredible opportunity for us. It is an honor to be a part of Eastern Gateway’s story and the next generation of business leaders and professionals.”
Her husband said EGCC’s business and leadership programs succeed “because of the college’s students, faculty, and leadership. We are extremely thankful to be a part of helping students achieve their goals and career aspirations.”
“The Board of Trustees was honored to accept this gift from one of our own … who is truly ‘walking the walk’ to help build a stronger Eastern Gateway,” EGCC Board of Trustees Chair Jim Gaisor said. “The Christine and Phillip Dennison School of Business and Leadership will be something we can all be proud of.”
The change will take effect during the spring 2023 semester, which begins in January. At that time, the name of the school will appear on formal college documents, such as reports and student records.
“Business students and faculty will benefit greatly from the generous support of the Dennison’s donation,” said John Crooks, EGCC’s senior vice president and chief academic officer. “The Dennison School of Business and Leadership will advance the college’s vision of ‘Creating Opportunities and Changing Lives.’ It is fitting to name this school after solid supporters of our students and local business professionals and owners.”
EGCC spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said they’re always hoping to increase participation and interest for learning in Steubenville and Jefferson County.
“We have heard that some don’t know that we have programs like accounting and business,” she said. “These are great programs for recent high school grands to get started at a more affordable college before transferring to a four-year college.”
Geoghegan, meanwhile, said it’s incredibly significant that a board member felt moved to make a commitment of that magnitude to the school.
“It’s a true testament to the incredible work of our business faculty, staff and students who have demonstrated that they are a great investment,” he said. “For the college as a whole, it is humbling, especially as we are in a time of transition and challenge, that those in our community not only stand behind us but stand with us to ensure we emerge stronger than before. (It’s) encouraging and certainly motivating.”