The Farmer School of Business has yet another chunk of change to add to its growing list of donations, with the school recently receiving $10 million from Miami University alumnus Richard Forsythe and his wife Sandra.
According to Alan Oak, assistant dean of external relations at the business school, the gift will go toward equipping a student commons area as well as a library and technology center in the Farmer School’s new building, which is set to be completed by fall 2009.
Both spaces will be named for the donors.
Roger Jenkins, dean of the Farmer School, said in an e-mail that Forsythe’s gift will be used in creating and naming two “premier” spaces in the new building.
“This $10 million gift from Rick and Sandy is an extremely generous gift for which faculty, staff and students in the Farmer School are very grateful,” Jenkins said.
Forsythe graduated from Miami in 1961 with a B.S. in economics, jumping into a position at IBM after graduation. With his partner, Jim McArthur, Forsythe then founded the company that would later become Forsythe Technology, which offers both technology equipment and consulting services.
According Jenkins, Forsythe was an early supporter of Miami’s entrepreneurship program, and he and his wife have both maintained a close relationship with Jenkins since Jenkins’ first year at Miami, despite living and working in the Chicago area.
Currently, Forsythe sits on the board of advisers for the Thomas C. Paige Center for Entrepreneurship, and has for the past 10 years. According to Oak, Forsythe was also recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Paige Center.
Already, Forsythe has donated $1 million to endow the Richard Forsythe Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship, which is now held by Jill Kickul.
According to Oak, the technology center will provide a fully up-to-date computer lab that any students, regardless of their major, could use. The library will include reference materials, and is a facility not currently found in the business school.
Oak said that allowing non-business students to use the space would benefit all students.
“This is a really generous gift that enables us provide a quality facility for Miami University … with benefits to the entire campus,” Oak said.
According to Glenn Platt, director of Interactive Media Studies at Miami, the technology center and library is one important piece of improving the Farmer School’s national standings.
“Technology is at the foundation of business and you can’t be practicing the kind of cutting edge business curriculum that the business school practices without it,” Platt said.
Before, technology was believed to have been the domain of very few departments, but with the advent of real time stock trades, economic indicators and online marketing, Platt said that technology is now woven throughout every business student’s curriculum.
“This gives students the ability to get their hands dirty and give them the tools they will need in the real world,” Platt said.
Ray Gorman, a senior associate dean of the Farmer School, hopes that the new facilities will then reflect well on the growing business school.
“I think it’s going to help the school because it’s going to make the building a world-class education facility,” Gorman said. “This is more than classrooms and offices, this is type of spaces (students) can work in.”
Jenkins noted that Forsythe’s gift is the third gift the Farmer School has received for amounts totaling $10 million or higher.
According to Gorman, previous gifts have provided funds for the upcoming the John T. Petters Center for Ethics, Leadership and Professional Development; the Chaifetz Trading Center; and other general construction costs, thanks to a gift of $30 million in 2005 from Richard and Joyce Farmer.
The $10 million gift will benefit Miami’s For Love and Honor campaign, which hopes to raise $500 million by May 2009 for various programs and priorities.
However, Oaks pointed out that any gift is important, no matter the size.
“Every gift is an important one because it represents a commitment on the part of a friend of the university to give back and enable the university to improve,” Oak said.