Skip To Main Content
Skip To Main Content

New endowed scholarship supports College of Law Summer Starter Program

Due to its small size and emphasis on ethics, Ohio Northern University’s Claude W. Pettit College of Law offered Fred Zeigler, JD ’69, a distinctively refining experience, instilling ethical values that endure in the way he practices law today.

Fred recognizes that being an effective lawyer requires much more than just intelligence alone. “It takes more than brains,” he says. “You have to be truthful and very honest as far as representing a client and being very dedicated to that client. More than anything else, you need to be hardworking.”

His top priority as a lawyer is steadfast dedication to his client, specifically the responsibility he feels to represent them properly and honorably.

“Intelligence is good, but it’s not the best thing for a lawyer,” Fred says. “It’s more important to be able to listen and find out what that person needs and then give it to them and represent them properly.”

He credits the foundation of his ethical values to the way he was taught by his law professors.

“I think Ohio Northern really grilled it into the classes that I took that honesty and ethics were absolutely more important than anything, because you’re responsible for people’s money and their lives in a lot of respects.”

ONU’s small-town atmosphere is another distinguishing characteristic Fred enjoyed as a law student, and he aspires for others to have that same formative experience working in the same kind of environment.

“What I would like to see Ohio Northern do is promote not just an understanding of the law, but lawyers who can work with small-town people,” he says.

Fred and his wife, Suzie, are doing their part to help ONU continue to produce lawyers who can do just that through the Fred and Suzie Zeigler Scholarship. The first of its kind, the scholarship is expressly for students enrolled in the College of Law’s Summer Starter Program, an eight-week program designed to give a head start to students with outstanding undergraduate performance indicative of probable academic success in law school, despite a lower LSAT score.

It’s a deeply personal commitment from the Zeiglers.

“Ohio Northern gave me an opportunity to go to law school, which I’m grateful for. I didn’t have a very high LSAT grade ­– mainly because I couldn’t take standardized tests,” Fred says. “I did well on some, but that one I did poor on for some reason, although it was sufficient to get into law schools.”

Ohio Northern was the first college to accept Fred, and he was impressed with the faculty and staff from the very beginning. He rubbed elbows with none other than the college’s namesake – Claude W. Pettit – who he reveres as a “nice gentleman and top-notch individual.” He was even interviewed by the dean of the College of Law himself for his admissions interview.

Philanthropy has been a longtime priority for the Marion, Ohio, couple. They are grateful for the opportunities Fred’s ONU education has given them. Since they have no children, having close relatives for beneficiaries is not a plausible option for their estate planning. However, the couple has found several meaningful causes to aid and has included ONU in their planned giving.

The Zeiglers are very involved in the Marion Community Foundation, a community-centric organization that supports several different charities and provides scholarships for people in their hometown. ONU will be included in the Zeiglers’ trust with the Marion Community Foundation, and Fred has even made Ohio Northern the beneficiary of his IRA.

A retired nurse, Suzie, too, values philanthropy and does charity work, regularly traveling and delivering meals to those in need, just to name one cause that she supports.

“It’s just rewarding,” Suzie says. “You get a lot of satisfaction to see how you can help, even at the small scale.”

Looking ahead, Fred plans to retire within the next few years, hoping to cap his professional career at the 50-year mark. Once retired, he and Suzie plan on traveling and enjoying retirement together. Thanks to their generosity, no matter where they are, they will always take solace in knowing that back in Ada, Ohio, some young law student is getting the same shot at becoming a lawyer that Fred got from ONU.

About the Summer Starter Program

The Summer Starter Program provides a starting point for many students to reach their full potential. The College of Law invites students to participate in the program who have shown a strong record for academic success, work ethic and leadership through their undergraduate careers, but whose potential is not accurately measured on the LSAT. 

“Many Summer Starter students are overlooked by other law schools,” says Rachel Frey, director of law admissions. “Students who complete our Summer Starter Program regularly rank at the top of the first-year class and are elected to many leadership positions within the college.”

Fred Zeigler, JD ’69, can appreciate this predicament, since he faced it himself nearly 50 years ago. Now, he and his wife, Suzie, want to help give students the same opportunity ONU gave him, a gesture the college greatly appreciates.

“Summer Starter students typically do not qualify for many of the merit-based scholarships offered to first-year law students due to their lower LSAT score,” Frey says. “Therefore, the Zeiglers’ gift will be extremely beneficial because it will be able to assist students who otherwise would not receive a scholarship award until their second year.”

Fred gleaned the idea of creating a scholarship from other law school alumni who did something similar for their alma maters. He sees it as his way of making a difference to help potential law school students who may not have the same resources as traditional applicants.