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Jerry Warner

Dr. Jerry Warner Scholarship

“This scholarship is for the students who haven’t been superstars. They’re capable, but they just don’t know it yet. I hope I give them an opportunity to grow.”

When Jerry Warner, Ph.D, thinks about his first winter in Highland Heights 40 years ago, he remembers that the windows on his house had as much ice on the inside of the panes as the outside. Even the Ohio River froze over that winter. It was a stark contrast from the weather in his former New Orleans home. But, he decided to stay here and became one of the early faculty members at Northern Kentucky University. 

“NKU gave me an opportunity that I wasn’t getting other places. It was about building the university,” Dr. Warner says.

Dr. Warner would spend the next 30 years nurturing the growth of NKU. He served as Professor of Biology, the Director of Allied Health programs, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost while a search was in progress. He founded University 101 in 1986 and helped to create the modern “orientation weekend”.

Dr. Warner acknowledges the special magic of a young college.  When he first began teaching here, NKU was only a few years old with fewer than 3,000 students. The possibilities seemed endless.

“We thought we could do anything. So we did. It was an opportunity that rarely comes along.”

Dr. Warner found the most enjoyment in helping students who underestimated themselves, who didn’t know the great things they were capable of.

“The best thing was to see a student come in as a freshman who was very uncertain of her/his future, were unsure of what they wanted to do, and then see them four or five years later with clear goals and a high level of maturity,” he says.

It is for these students that Jerry has donated a generous gift to create the Dr. Jerry Warner Scholarship. This scholarship will support a biology major, with clear financial need who has demonstrated an ability to perform at a high level.

Dr. Warner understands the importance of supporting these students, because he was one of them. He grew up on a small farm in Louisiana.  Neither of his parents completed high school, but encouraged their son to pursue an education.

“I was not an outstanding student (about a B average in high school) and “distinguished” myself with a little over a C average in college” he says. “After two years in the Army (including a tour of Vietnam, I returned to graduate school in a probationary status.  Many people fresh out of high school don’t know what they are capable of or what is available to them. I was certainly that way.”

Dr. Warner spent his career guiding students and encouraging them to strive beyond their perceived limits. He recalls one young woman he advised to pursue medical school rather than her planned shorter degree program. The last he heard, she was doing her residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

“This scholarship is for the students who haven’t been superstars. They’re capable, but they just don’t know it yet. I hope I give them an opportunity to grow.”