Don Myers, American University’s CFO, Vice President and Treasurer, died on January 6, 2014, after a long battle with cancer. He was 68 years old.
Myers had an extraordinary career at AU that lasted four decades, including 32 years as its chief financial officer. He served six presidents. His legacy includes building the university’s long-term financial health and developing the human resources, facilities, and grounds to support AU’s academic programs and aspirations.
Introducing safeguards that saw the university through economic crises in the 1980s, Myers worked with AU leaders and the Board of Trustees to build the financial health of the institution. Under his leadership, the university was one of the first to adopt many of the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, even though nonprofits were not required to do so.
With the Board of Trustees Finance and Investment Committee, he developed an investment approach that substantially built the endowment. Myers was proud when AU earned A+ (S&P) and A2 (Moody’s) bond ratings and suffered no cuts to the operating budget during the nation’s most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. Myers’ effective financial planning enabled the university to continue offering competitive compensation and benefit increases to its faculty and staff when other universities were furloughing or freezing pay.
During his tenure as CFO, the university’s endowment increased from $7 million to $550 million; the operating budget grew tenfold to $600 million; and total assets increased fourteen-fold to $1.4 billion.
A first-generation college student who worked on a farm, Myers was attuned to the issue of college affordability, especially for the neediest students. He kept an eye on the relative price of tuition, advocating for a long-held AU position at the midpoint of peer institutions. Most recently, he and the university’s provost led AU’s Budget Committee in 2012 to recommend the lowest tuition increase on record.
He also supported an increase and shift in financial aid from being primarily merit-based to a balanced portfolio of merit and need-based awards. Myers also personally supported students through philanthropy, establishing an endowed scholarship in 2003 at the Kogod School of Business, his alma mater.
Using AU’s financial stability and reserves, Myers focused on developing facilities and grounds to support the university’s academic mission. Since 1982, the university’s facilities have doubled to 4 million square feet, with another 1 million square feet of construction in progress. The School of Communication’s move to the renovated McKinley Building this month makes it the latest school to move into new academic facilities. A new home for the Washington College of Law at the Tenleytown campus is well under way, slated to open in Fall 2015, and plans are in the works for the new East Campus project, scheduled to open in 2016.
Under Myers’ watch, the university’s development also was recognized for its beauty and sustainability. Myers’ team sought and received the designation of the campus as an arboretum in 2003. All new facilities are built to earn a minimum LEED silver standard, and the new School of International Service building earned gold. The university’s sustainability and green power programs have made it possible to meet the President’s Climate Commitment to be carbon neutral by 2020.
At home and abroad, Myers made a lasting impression. His leadership in bringing American-style higher education to parts of the world where it is in demand or most needed resulted in partnerships with new universities in the Middle East and Africa, which facilitated their growth, led to the full U.S. accreditation of one institution, and placed the other on a path towards that end.
In 2013, the Washington Business Journal honored Myers with its Lifetime Achievement Award. On that occasion, he noted how gratifying it was to help the university he loved to achieve such significant growth.
Originally from Hagerstown, MD, and a graduate of Shepherd College (now Shepherd University) in West Virginia, Myers started at AU as an entry-level accountant and earned his MBA in Finance in the evening program at AU. Myers is survived by his wife, Margie; two sons, Curtis and Charlie; a daughter, Tracey; granddaughters, Elyse and Allie; grandsons, MJ and DJ; and two brothers, Ronnie and Larry.
Board of Trustees Chair Jeff Sine said, "For more than forty years, Don Myers’ impact on American University was profound and transformative. His commitment to AU, our students, and our faculty was abiding and absolute. The Board joins the rest of the AU community in expressing our profound sense of loss and sorrow over the passing of a great man."
Mark your calendars for March 8 and plan to bring the whole family to campus for a “dive-in” screening of the 2003 animated classic, Finding Nemo. The movie will be screened in the Reeves Aquatic Center swimming pool at 1 p.m. Open swim will take place from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Free parking is available in the Bender Arena garage and all are welcome to attend. For additional information, contact Andrew Huff, Director of Community Relations at 885-2167 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
American University, in collaboration with the Kennedy Political Union (KPU), will host the 2014 DC Democratic Primary Mayoral Debate on Wednesday, February 12 at 7 p.m. in the Katzen Arts Center’s Abramson Recital Hall. The debate will be moderated by NBC4’s Tom Sherwood and feature ABC 7’s Sam Ford and Fox 5’s Matt Ackland as panelists.
“We are excited to bring local Democratic candidates to campus for a debate on the many issues relevant to the future of the District of Columbia,” said KPU Director Chandler Thornton. “We hope to engage AU students in an important dialogue about our city and local community.” Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The School of Professional and Extended Studies (SPExS) and the University Library announce the continuation of Books that Shaped America, a special discussion series for the community and American University students, faculty, and staff. The series features selections from the Books That Shaped America list compiled by the Library of Congress. Informal discussions about the influence of these books on the nation’s extraordinary literary heritage are led by AU faculty and staff members.
•February 18 at 7:30 p.m. – Assistant Professor Kyle Dargan, the Director of Creative Writing in the Department of Literature, will lead a discussion of The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. The event will be held in the School of International Studies Abramson Family Founders Room.
•April 1 at 7:30 p.m. – Associate Dean Patrick Thaddeus Jackson of the School of International Service will lead a discussion of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. The event will be held in the School of International Studies Abramson Family Founders Room.
•April 22 at 7:30 p.m. – Assistant Professor Nimai Mehta of the School of Professional & Extended Studies will lead a discussion of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The event will be held in the Bender Library, GRC Classroom.
These events are free and light refreshments will be served. Attendees are not required to have read the book in advance.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Announces Spring Offerings
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), an association of people in the D.C. area who wish to continue to study and learn, has announced its offerings for the spring semester. For a membership fee, participants may take up to three study groups that run during the day for just under two hours a week. Semesters run from eight to ten weeks. OLLI operates very much like a small liberal arts college. While members come from varied backgrounds, they all share a genuine interest in continuing their learning experiences and intellectual stimulation in an organization of like-minded people. Members participate fully in study groups, either by leading them or attending them. There are no tests or grades, as members participate simply for the joy of learning. Membership in OLLI also provides an opportunity for social interaction, new friendships, and collegiality.
OLLI is an independent, nonprofit organization located at American University and is part of the OLLI Network and the Elderhostel Institute Network (RoadScholar). OLLI’s goal is to offer a high-quality learning experience that is accessible to all.
VOICES OF WOMEN: A SEMINAR ON INTIMACY, FAMILY & PROFESSIONAL/PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT
Recharge yourself by taking a journey of self-discovery with American University Professor Iris Krasnow. An award-winning journalist, Krasnow has created Voices of Women, a non-credit, six-week course that explores the most important issues a woman faces during her life cycle, at home and in the work place. Discussions of Iris Krasnow’s best-selling books on intimate relationships (see www.iriskrasnow.com) and readings from other female writers about the ascent of women in business and in family structures are blended together in this life-changing course. The seminar runs from 5:30 – 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, February 12 and 19, and March 5, 12, 19, 26. Click here to sign up and here to find the registration form.
Led by certified Kripalu Yoga teacher Eva Blutinger, this yoga class is a great opportunity to de-stress and start your Wednesdays with mental clarity, relaxation, and art. Be sure to bring a mat. Blutinger is a Certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher who has been dedicated to the practice of yoga for more than 17 years. She loves sharing the gift of yoga and its profound healing effects for beginners and experienced practitioners alike. She does “trauma-sensitive yoga” for wounded warriors at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, teaches adults in the Wesley Heights community, and faculty/staff at American University and Sheridan School with a focus on stress management.
HABITAT, a composition for percussion with video and computer transformations, is a concert-length technology venture by Steve Antosca, with percussion performance and video content by Ross Karre, and audio technology provided by William Brent.HABITAT stems from the traditions of Intermedia in art in which a variety of media are employed for the mutual benefit of underlying concepts. From the outset of the compositional process, HABITAT treats percussion instruments, monitors, and projection surfaces as installed sculptures and unifying elements of the project.
February 23, 1-3 p.m.
Expand your children’s imaginations by engaging them in a fun, creative art class inspired by one of the current exhibitions. One week advanced registration suggested. Call 202-885-1300 to register. The cost is $10 per child.