Skip Navigation

Norman Couple Establish Doctor of Science Autism Scholarship

OU Public Affairs WebsiteOU homepagePublic Affairs homepage
Skip Side Navigation

Norman Couple Establish Doctor of Science Autism Scholarship in OU College of Allied Health


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEAS                                   

CONTACT: OU Public Affairs, (405) 325-1701

NORMAN – University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced today that scholarship donors Jon and Cathryn Withrow have made a $240,000 gift to establish a new scholarship in the College of Allied Health, increasing the Norman couple’s total gifts to OU scholarships to almost $2 million.

Their newest gift is designated for doctoral students who will be conducting research and working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. It continues the Withrows’ exceptional and longtime support for scholarships and underscores their deep interest in autism.

“This special gift to help students who will devote their lives to helping others is typical of the Withrows’ generosity, which has provided opportunities to countless students,” Boren said.

The endowment is named the Cathryn and Jon R. Withrow Doctor of Science – Autism Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Kevin Rudeen, dean of the College of Allied Health, said, “We are grateful that Mr. and Mrs. Withrow have placed their confidence in the College of Allied Health to provide scholarships for physical therapists and occupational therapists in our doctoral program. We are excited to be able to extend these much-needed scholarships critical to the education and training of practicing health-care providers who will be working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“Educating therapists to work in this area is greatly needed in Oklahoma, and this gift is immensely helpful for bringing more rehabilitation therapists to this field, which will have a lasting impact to both the scholarship recipient and to those individuals with autism who will benefit by having these advanced therapists available in this specialized area.”

The drive behind the Withrows’ newest scholarship endowment came from Cathryn Withrow, who has served as an educational aide for students with autism in the Norman Public Schools, from pre-school to high school age.

“I fell in love with the students and learned so much from them as well as their families. It was during these years that I realized the tremendous needs of the entire autism community. With statistics revealing that one in 88 children are now being diagnosed with autism and that these children are largely an underserved segment of our society, Jon and I knew we wanted to do something to make a difference. It is an extremely complex disorder. The more we researched, the more research we realized needed to be done. Our interest has become a passion.”

She and her husband evaluated where and how they could best serve the autism community in Oklahoma. They determined that the graduate scholarship in the OU College of Allied Health would be a way they could have a positive impact.

Recipients of the scholarship will work closely with the Oklahoma Autism Network, which is housed in the College of Allied Health’s Tolbert Center. OAN facilitates planning, financing, and management of the Individuals with Autism and their Families, Oklahoma Plan.

As the state's autism information and referral source for families and professionals, the organization works with the statewide network of parent-led organizations focused on Autism Spectrum Disorders and provides a variety of training for state agencies, community organizations, families, and professionals as well as organizing and sponsoring the annual Statewide Autism Conference.

The Network also is involved with systems change activities such as training providers in SoonerStart, the state’s early intervention program, in the use of the Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year Olds.

Mr. and Mrs. Withrow have made gifts for scholarships and fellowships that have helped students in four different colleges at OU over the past several years. Their involvement extends beyond offering financial support. They have taken a personal interest in the students they assist and have made meaningful friendships with recipients, sometimes attending OU events with them and following their progress after they graduate.

Jon Withrow said reading the letters from grateful student recipients of his scholarships “really opened my eyes as to how much they were needed. With their scholarships, they could study more, make better grades and, more important, stay in school.”

Jon Withrow, who earned his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering and a master’s geological engineering from OU, is owner and president of Sundance Oil in Oklahoma City. Cathryn Withrow, after studying art education, graduated with a degree in fine arts from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She serves as vice president of Sundance Oil Company.

Recent News

OU Norman Campus to Close For Maintenance March 19-20

NORMAN - Due to a request by OG&E to perform significant electrical maintenance work, the Norman campus of the University of Oklahoma will close on Monday, March 19 and Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Read more

OU to Host Fifth Annual Conference for First-Generation and Minority Students

NORMAN – The Office of University Community at the University of Oklahoma will host its fifth annual George McLaurin and Sylvia A. Lewis Leadership Conference, a program aimed at connecting OU with talented first-generation and minority students. Read more

OU Board of Regents Elects Bennett, Rainbolt-Forbes as Officers

NORMAN — Clayton I. Bennett of Oklahoma City has been re-elected as chairman of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents and Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes, M.D., has been re-elected as vice chairman of the board. Read more

James Pappas Admin Building Dedicated

NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma today dedicated the James P. Pappas University Outreach Administration Building located at 1700 Asp Ave.  Read more

Dean Rick Luce Announces Plans to Retire

NORMAN – Following a long and distinguished career in libraries, Rick Luce, University of Oklahoma Libraries’ dean, professor and Peggy V. Helmerich chair, and associate vice president for research, is announcing his retirement, effective July 1, 2018. Read more

Drama School Alumna Earns Recognition

NORMAN — Paige Hathaway, 2011 graduate of the bachelor of fine arts scenic design program in the University of Oklahoma Helmerich School of Drama, earned the 2018 Rising Star Award, presentedby the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. The Rising Star Award, established by LDI and Live Design Magazine, recognizes excellence and artistic achievement in the areas of scenic, lighting, sound and projection design, or the convergence of these design disciplines. Read More

OU Residential Colleges Recognized As Outstanding Development Project

NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma’s Residential Colleges recently won the “Large Scale Development” category in the Urban Land Institute Oklahoma’s fourth annual Impact Awards held at the Tower Theater in Oklahoma City.   Read More

OU Professor Elected as Fellow of Ecological Society of America

NORMAN —A University of Oklahoma professor, Jizhong Zhou, has been elected as a 2018 Fellow of the Ecological Society of America for outstanding accomplishments in environmental genomics and microbial ecology. Zhou and other ESA fellows will be recognized during the society’s annual meeting in New Orleans, Aug. 5-10. Read More

News Archives

2017  | 2016  | 2015  | 2014  |  2013  

For requests for past releases, please contact OU Public Affairs at (405) 325-1701 or