The year was 1956. It was a warm, late-spring day, and although the academic school year was coming to a close, elections for the Student Senate at Miami University had only just begun.
“Stevie approached me on the sidewalks of campus and asked me to nominate her for office,” Roger Joslin recalled nearly 57 years later. “I bit my tongue and eventually told her no, I would not do that, because I was afraid that would jeopardize my own election.”
Stephanie “Stevie” wasn’t bitter. They were both elected to two-year terms on the executive committee.
Although the first encounter between Roger and Stevie Joslin was anything but romantic, it marked the beginning of a relationship that has lasted more than 56 years.
“I can’t even remember when our first date was, but it probably occurred after one of our executive committee meetings,” Stevie said. “It wasn’t an ‘aha moment,’ so to speak; it just unfolded and unraveled, and a friendship became a relationship, and a relationship became a courtship.”
Several months after their meeting on the sidewalk, the two found themselves in the lounge at Richard Hall, where Stevie lived. Here, Roger proposed.
“He gave me a beautiful one-carat diamond, which had been in his family,” Stevie said. “I was blown away, and he said, ‘You don’t have to keep it if you don’t want it.’ The rest is history.”
The couple married the week after they graduated from Miami.
Roger and Stevie Joslin spend their winters in Florida, and have been happily married for more than 50 years. They finish each other’s sentences, although Stevie does a lot more talking than Roger. Despite each being only a few years short of 80, the Joslins are involved in their church, host private receptions and donate to their alma mater, Miami University.
The Joslins’ first great commitment to Miami came in the form of a fully-endowed tennis scholarship in honor of their daughter Jill, who graduated in 1987.
“The fact that another classmate had endowed a scholarship inspired us to do likewise,” Stevie said. “So we hope that in the process [of our donating to the Armstrong Student Center] others who are capable of giving would also be inspired to give.”
“It’s amazing what the law of numbers does… it really adds up,” President David Hodge said. “Even in small amounts, it makes a big difference.”
In 2008, the Joslins celebrated their 50-year class reunion – and wedding anniversary – by naming the Joslin Family Terrace at the Armstrong Student Center with a $500,000 gift. The terrace, which provides seating for outdoor dining, sits at the Gaskill West entrance of the building and provides a view of the campus’ Hub, director of the Armstrong Student Center Katie Wilson said.
Roger and Stevie are among many Miami alumni who have committed themselves to the university, giving back all that they can so that others may have as wonderful an experience as they had.
To date, the campaign “For Love and Honor” has been the most successful fundraising effort in Miami’s history, surpassing its $500 million goal, according to the campaign’s website. Of that goal, $30 million went to the Armstrong Student Center.
Many of the donations have come from the Miami Merger population – couples like the Joslins and the Armstrongs. With an estimated 26,580 Miami alumni married to each other, Miami Mergers make up more than 14 percent of living Miami alumni, according to the Alumni Association’s website.
“[Mergers] owe their career and marriage to Miami,” Hodge said. “[They have] affection for the university.”
The Joslins have recently announced they will also be naming the Student Senate Chambers, honoring the birthplace of their relationship.
“Miami just means the world to me,” Stevie said. “I just feel that everything we have is really on loan, and we are to be good stewards of what we’ve been blessed with.”
Current students must recognize this generosity, Hodge said.
“Students are here and enjoying what they are because of people who came before them,” Hodge said. “It is really, really, really important for students today to understand that the students of tomorrow will depend on their generosity.”
Hodge encouraged that all alumni begin donating as soon as they graduate. Until then, they should enjoy their limited time at the university.
“I think that the four years that you’re on campus at Miami will, should, be the best years of your life…” Stevie said. “I hope that students will not miss all the opportunities that they have.”
Roger added, “And I can’t say it any better.”