As we celebrate a season of giving thanks, we look back on the generosity of one of Ohio State's most giving alumni, who left one of the largest gifts ever to a regional campus in the state of Ohio.

In a sepia-toned photo, a 20-year old George Alber, the left wing of a leather-clad Buckeye football team, posed outside a brand new Ohio Stadium. His hair is neatly combed, brow furrowed. The young George Alber meant business. When he graduated from Ohio State with a business degree in 1929, Alber went to work building a lucrative fertilizer company. 

Older gentleman in suit tie and glasses smiling

Plant Life Fertilizer, the company he founded in Marion, eventually expanded it into five subsidiaries throughout Ohio. When he sold the company in 1971, it was the largest privately-owned fertilizer company in the United States, with clients around the world.  When Alber passed away on Thanksgiving Day in 1997, he left half of his $32 million estate to be invested on behalf of The Ohio State University at Marion.  Managed by the Columbus Foundation, those funds provide over a half million dollars in scholarships for Ohio State Marion students.

Alber credited much of his success to his alma mater.  Alber directed $16 million of his estate to provide scholarships for students to attend Ohio State Marion. Each year hundreds of students from high schools across the state attend college at Ohio State Marion thanks to the George H. and Dorothy T. Alber Endowed Scholarship Fund. 

In 2023-24, nearly 95% of all Ohio State Marion students receive scholarship and aid.  The generosity and forethought of Marion businessman, philanthropist, and former Buckeye, George H. Alber plays a huge role in helping finance higher education for students attending the campus.  To honor the late George H. Alber the Alber Student Center on campus.  The Alber Student Center also features a display of Alber and his long and storied history with The Ohio State University as both a member of the football team in the late 1920's and as a philanthropist to the campus and Marion community.

The Marion Campus Bell Tower was erected in memory of wife Dorothy T. and George H. Alber, both 1929 graduates of The Ohio State University.  His name and impact on campus can still be felt today.

In addition to his dedication to the university, Alber had an affinity for his home town of Marion, Ohio.  He lived in Marion, believed in Marion, and forever left his mark on the community and its people.  Each year, thousands of Marion County residents feel the impact of Alber’s generosity through local charities including American Red Cross of Marion, United Way of Marion County, Marion Family YMCA Endowment Fund, Salvation Army of Marion, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association, among others. 

"Generosity has the power to transform lives and shape the future. The remarkable gift of $16 million from George Alber many years ago to support students at Ohio State Marion was not just a donation, it was an investment in the lives of our students and our community that still resonates today.  This philanthropic gesture exemplifies a commitment to education and the belief that empowering students today will create a brighter and more promising tomorrow. We are so grateful for this outstanding gift, and for all the gifts given by our donors,” stated Catherine Gerber, Director of Development and Community Relations at Ohio State Marion. 

In 2023, we honor George H. Alber's kindness, forethought, and generosity, which continues to support and strengthen Ohio State Marion students and the Marion community decades later.