He saw her. And he made sure he sat at her table.
Bill Berg and Heeyoung Tai were at a reception for new faculty joining Miami University in the fall of 1991. They chatted over dinner at Shriver Center with the other incoming professors, made plans to go out with their new professional friends and learned that they were living right next door to each other on Chestnut.
They went on dates, spending evenings just walking around Miami’s Western Campus.
Now, 25 years after meeting at Miami, the pair is going on their 23rd year of marriage – a different type of Miami Merger.
The phrase Miami Mergers, the alliterative title given to a married couple of alumni, usually sparks the image of two young-and-in-love students who kiss under Upham Arch and later wed. Berg and Tai may not have met as undergraduates, but still consider themselves a part of the Miami tradition.
“We were both new here,” said Berg, “so it’s similar, because students come here and they’re all pretty much new.”
“This place has a lot of memories,” said Tai, reminiscing on their walks through Western and their wedding at its tucked-away, grey stone Kumler Chapel. Aside from family, all of their guests were members of the Miami community.
Miami is known for its exceptionally high marriage rates, with 14 percent of alumni married to another graduate of the university. It’s one of the highest rates of any college in the country, according to information published by Forbes’s.
The tradition also has also been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2009, Miami hosted an unprecedented on-campus vow renewal ceremony for over 1,000 merger couples under the Upham Arch.
Other universities across the country have also tried to garner donor support by reaching out to their married alumni, according to an article published by the New York Daily News, but Miami remains a romantic champion.
Every Valentine’s Day since 1973, Miami’s alumni association has sent cards to the couples who fell in love inside its red brick buildings and on its bright green quads. This year, they plan to mail over 27,000 valentines to all 50 U.S. states that include a poem and a heartbeat monitor design. If the recipients look closely, they’ll notice “MU” written right there in the heartbeat.
Berg and Tai’s Valentine’s Day plans will likely include grading, but regardless of how they celebrate, it’s obvious – they’re in love.
Unconsciously, they laugh at all of the same times, and when they speak of each other, you can hear smiles in their voices – like they’re both so glad that he made sure he sat at her table 25 years ago.