Oglethorpe Alumnus Champions Excellence in Mathematics and Computer Science

Oglethorpe alumnus Robin Lohfert ’03 recently pledged a multi-year donation to support the Division of Mathematics and Computer Science. The funds will supplement the Ronald L. Carlisle Prize in Mathematics and Computer Science, an award given to an outstanding student studying one of these disciplines.

Lohfert, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in computer science, received a scholarship as an Oglethorpe student, which he says enabled him to focus on his academic pursuits.

“I was fortunate that I could really focus on learning and not have to worry about student loans or part-time jobs,” he says. “I knew not everyone was that lucky.”

This sense of gratitude is, in part, what inspired Lohfert to give back to Oglethorpe, and he has been making an annual gift nearly every year since he graduated, with a goal of donating at least the amount he received in scholarship funding. In doing so, he hopes to pay it forward and help students be able to focus on their academic work.

Throughout Lohfert’s career in software development, he has seen the value of his liberal arts education at work. While technical programming and coding skills are important, the broader skills he gained at OU through the Core curriculum continue to make a big difference.

“The way of thinking, using logic, and knowing how to investigate something and solve it are all part of the problem-solving approach that comes from a university education,” he says. Lohfert says these skills – and the communication skills to share one’s ideas – were all honed during his time at Oglethorpe, where he could explore different subjects and understand their connections to his work.

The most recent generous support from Lohfert underscores a dedication to nurturing future leaders in mathematics and computer science. With this gift, Lohfert hopes to strengthen the culture of excellence among math and computer science students, inspiring them to develop their intellectual curiosity and recognizing their achievements.

Four individuals stand together on the academic quad.
Robin Lohfert ’03 (second from left), with Dr. Brian Patterson, Carlisle Prize recipient Oscar Ibanez ’24, and Dr. John Nardo.

The Carlisle Prize was awarded 2024 to two outstanding students, Elli Malancea ’24 and Oscar Ibanez ’24, majoring in mathematics and computer science, respectively. The award is a testament to the hard work, dedication and ingenuity of exceptional students within these fields, providing them with well-deserved recognition and support on their academic journey.

“Knowing that donors believe in the potential of Oglethorpe students is truly motivating,” said Ibanez, who is moving to Bellevue, Washington, after graduation where he will begin a full-time position at Amazon as a software development engineer. “I am grateful for the opportunity that will help shape not only mine but the future paths of Oglethorpe students.”

The Carlisle Prize is named for the late Oglethorpe mathematics and computer science professor Dr. Ronald L. Carlisle, who was on the faculty at Oglethorpe for 22 years. Lohfert had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Carlisle, who served as his advisor and taught all of the computer science courses Lohfert took. He fondly remembers Dr. Carlisle as a mentor and always willing to discuss a project or new idea.

“He actually put me in touch with my first employer,” remembers Lohfert, whose summer internship with one of Dr. Carlisle’s former students turned into his first full-time job. “He really made a big difference.”

The outstanding nature of the university’s faculty continues today, says Malancea, who will pursue a master’s degree in statistics at Georgia Tech in the fall.  “I have never ever felt like I was not welcome to go and ask my professor questions,” she said. “All of them made it clear that not only is it their job to help, but they are happy to do it well.”

The ongoing support from Lohfert exemplifies the enduring bond between Oglethorpe alumni and their alma mater, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to giving back and paying it forward. Through their philanthropy and advocacy, alumni play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Oglethorpe University and empowering the next generation of leaders and innovators.