Connecting with Miami University alumni and getting those alumni to donate to the university has been a top goal of Miami administrators and student leaders alike. Over the years, Miami has found the top donors to the university are alumni who were actively involved as students and remain actively involved.
While most donors were involved in something at the university – whether they were Greek or in student government or the marching band – the university does not seek any particular type of donor, Senior Director of Development for Campaign Services Kevin Marks said.
“Miami typically doesn’t ask alumni for gifts specifically because they were involved in a fraternity or sorority, unless it’s for a project that might be relevant,” Marks said.
Despite this many donors are Greek.
According to Marks, the families of Richard T. Farmer, Mike Armstrong, Richard Forsythe, Roger Howe and Cliff Alexander are some of the most notable contributors, whose names students recognize on buildings or institutions. All five of these men were actively involved during their time at Miami and are still active alumni. All five were also in fraternities, according to Marks.
Farmer, who graduated in 1956 was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity and is well known for his contributions to the business school.
Richard Howe graduated a year after Farmer and was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. He is best known for his contributions to the Howe Center for Writing Excellence. Richard Forsythe, who graduated in 1961 and was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, was also an economics major. Like Farmer, he contributed to the business school giving students the Fortsythe Commons.
Alexander, ’56 and Armstrong, ’61 were also in Sigma Nu.
Alexander is known for endowing the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Armstrong, who gave a $15 million gift to kick-start the new Armstrong Student Center, was an economics major and is still actively involved.
While many donors were Greek, there are several prominent donors who were not. Harry Wilks, ’48, who is known for the Harry T. Wilks Leadership Institute, gave $9 million to the university and was not involved in a fraternity.
Lois Klawon, who graduated in 1939, left Miami over $16 million in her will. She was an accountancy major and not listed as being a member of any sorority.
Nick Huber, student body president, has had a chance to meet some donors including Farmer and Armstrong.
“It is really impressive that someone can accomplish so much, accumulate such wealth and resources and still be really humble and able to connect with others so easily,”
Huber said he wants Miami students to recognize and appreciate the donors for their contributions to the school.
Senior Marissa Gerdes agreed.
“I love the business school. I spend all of my time there,” Gerdes said. “I think [Farmer and Forsythe’s] donations were very beneficial to the business students. It has shown to be a worthwhile investment.”