Alumni and donor relations

Under the wire: Alumnus garners retailers’ support with new plus-size lingerie brand, 10/14/2013

A new full-figured lingerie brand now being stocked by national retailers is the venture of a BGSU alumnus of the Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy (PLA).

Vontoba “Von” Terry ’03 of Frisco, Texas, partnered with his wife, Psychelia, to found Urban Intimates, a trendy line of undies and unmentionables for curvy and plus-size women. Their designs in cup-sizes 32DD to 44H recently landed in select Macy’s stores and the online store of J.C. Penney Co.

“He has always had a lot of goals, and not just one goal,” said Ana Brown, former assistant director of the PLA.


One for the books: Lacrosse alumni raise $150,000 for athletic archives, 10/14/2013

Mickey Cochrane is a walking, talking media guide of Falcon Athletics. Preserving nearly 100 years of Falcon sport is a passion for Cochrane, who is the BGSU Athletic Museum archivist and co-founder, associate professor emeritus and beloved award-winning coach of lacrosse and soccer.

Now, a group of Cochrane’s lacrosse alumni will honor their former coach, his long-time collaborator, Don Cunningham ’43, ’65, and the sport’s legacy at BGSU by donating $150,000 to upgrade the athletic archives at Bowling Green State University.


Lights, camera, robots: Business of two alumni featured in national commercial, 9/16/2013

Weigl Works’s credit card statement included a roller coaster car, robotic components, last minute flights and a lot of snacks at theme parks, which led representatives at American Express to inquire about the business operated by two Falcon alumni.

Now, Weigl Works co-founders Mike Blasko ’02, ’09 of Cleveland, Ohio and John Kaplan ’05 of Raleigh, N.C. are featured in a national commercial for American Express that was filmed in Bowling Green in June. The commercial is now airing.

Filming in Bowling Green made sense. Though the co-founders now live and work in different states, the inspiration for the business came when they were working together at Life Formations, an animatronics company founded by BGSU faculty emeritus Dr. Gene Poor ’73.


Patty’s legacy, 4/13/2012

Early in her childhood, Judith Conda was the teacher when playing school with her older sister, Patty Shisler.

Playtime was often when Patty discovered her special talents. She had a knack for numbers. Long division and complex multiplication came easily. Patty would spell words that she couldn’t use in a sentence. Even so, Patty’s developmental disabilities allowed her peers to outpace her in a traditional classroom setting. As the sisters grew up in New Jersey in the early 1950s, there were no special education standards, no intervention specialists. Not until after she and their mother joined Judith in northwest Ohio in 1993 did Patty find a community of true peers and caregivers outside her family.

Upon arrival, Patty immediately enrolled in Wood Lane, a network of services, activities, and residential communities for children and adults with special needs. . . .

Nearly 10 years after making the connection between Patty’s caregivers and BGSU, Joe and Judith Conda will be honored for their extraordinary service and generosity to this institution. They will be recognized for their lifetime of giving during the first Leadership Circle Gala, a new event held at BGSU to thank donors who annually give $1,000 or more to the University.


Alumni turned their love of basketball into scholarship support
BGSU Foundation Annual Report, 4/16/2012

Steve ’81, ’94  and Rhonda Melchi ’81 have come to think of the student-athletes on the women’s basketball team as their surrogate daughters.

Rhonda surprises the team with post-game cookies so often, that they probably aren’t surprises anymore. They host the women’s team and coaches in their Bowling Green home after each season. Their basement shrine to all things Falcon has steadily grown, as has their annual contribution to athletics through the Falcon Club. Men’s and women’s basketball memorabilia now dominates their basement décor.

It was their spirited support for Falcon basketball that led the Melchis to become the first donors to the Champions Circle, a program in which donors are paired with student-athletes during their athletic season. As part of the Champions Circle, the couple annually donates the equivalent of tuition and is symbolically paired with one scholarship athlete on the women’s basketball team.

“We don’t have kids, and so it’s kind of like we adopt them while they’re here. And we form relationships. It’s just very rewarding,” Steve said. “Hopefully those kids will model that behavior, and give back when they can.”


Alumnus leads fundraising to honor favorite professor, 4/6/2012

David Levey ’71 was stunned to find his favorite professor still teaching here when he returned to campus for the first time in three decades. Now, Levey is leading an effort to recognize Dr. Neil Browne’s teaching methods by funding a faculty position in his honor.

Dr. Neil Browne, an emeritus distinguished teaching professor of economics, is widely recognized and celebrated for his innovative teaching methods related to building undergraduates’ critical-thinking skills. He is the force behind IMPACT, a nationally-recognized living-learning community for honors students, and coach of the mock trial team, which tied with Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley at national competition last year.


 Scholars lend advice to new BGSU students, 4/30/2012

Whether donning their caps and gowns leads to graduate school or stepping out as young professionals, the five graduating Alumni Laureate Scholars are looking forward to remarkable opportunities.

Each year, several high-achieving high school students receive full-tuition and book scholarships as Alumni Laureate Scholars at Bowling Green State University. Funded by the generosity of BGSU alumni and founded in 2002, the program shapes students into leaders.

“The ALS program is not just a scholarship, but a way of life,” said Montique Cotton Kelly ’94, ’04, executive director of the BGSU Alumni Association. “As someone who has seen these students begin as 17-year-olds, it is amazing the transformation that has happened. Each one of our graduating scholars truly found their passion while attending BGSU, and each made a unique impact on campus.”


Long after quake, alumnus serves in Haiti: Larry Benz ‘84 sets up physical therapy clinic and more
BGSU Magazine, Spring, 2012 and, 05/14/2012

Two years after the earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and devastated Haiti, most of the relief workers and volunteers that responded to the disaster have left the impoverished nation.

Not Larry Benz ’84. The BGSU alumnus and physical therapist supports one of the remaining volunteer organizations committed to permanently serving in Haiti.

At Benz’s urging, staff from his more than 30 physical and occupational therapy practices and a network of other colleagues have volunteered each month since the quake through PT Help for Haiti, a group that operates a clinic in the coastal city of Jacmel. Benz regularly travels there and helps to fund other volunteers through his foundation, Neighborhood Engagement — a faith-based nonprofit he created to provide medical care and other outreach to low income and underserved populations.

Their efforts don’t stop with health care. Neighborhood Engagement and the clinic’s volunteers have teamed with local residents to rebuild affordable housing, support an area orphanage, and create new employment opportunities and small businesses for Haitians. He encourages health care volunteers to invite their families to sign up to help with such side projects. His wife and daughter have obliged.

“We’re not trying to save the world. We’re just trying to listen and to build relationships,” Benz said. “We have a lot of Haitian help. Our model is to really become part of the community so they are not dependent on us; they are dependent on each other.”


Professorship to embody legacy of Dr. William Schmeltz
BGSU Foundation Annual Report, 6/11/2012

When Bill Schmeltz was stationed on campus as a National Guard serviceman, he lacked confidence and faced doubts about his future after World War II. Only with the urging of a BGSU professor, Gilbert Cooke, did Schmeltz apply and gain acceptance to the masters program in business at Harvard University. Schmeltz was third in his class when he earned his MBA from Harvard in 1947. He later earned his doctorate at Case Western Reserve University.

Today, he still credits Cooke for his success.

During his years as a professor in accounting and dean of the BGSU College of Business Administration, Schmeltz was driven to empower his students and younger family members to tackle their education with the same confidence he found through his mentor. Now retired and 88 years old, his passion for higher education endures.

“Don’t be afraid to tackle any job,” Schmeltz said, offering advice for future BGSU graduates. “You may think, ‘That’s too hard’ and ‘I can’t do it.’ Well, those are the best ones. Those are the ones you learn the most from. The idea is there is nothing you shouldn’t take a try at.”


Fifty years of learning and loving: 2012 marks BGSU reunion year and decades of romance for Jack and Helenanne Frobose, 7/9/2012

Jack Frobose had flowers for three Bowling Green women on his first date with his future bride, Helenanne ’62.

They had only just been introduced at the Falcon’s Nest when he invited her to the 1961 Homecoming football game versus Kent State. They agreed it would be improper to attend together without chaperones, because, after all, she was engaged to someone else and he was not yet divorced. At the game, Jack impressed her when he revealed three chrysanthemums — one for Helenanne and each of her girlfriends. She was smitten, and they were soon inseparable.

“We were young whipper-snappers when we were here and now we’re old farts,” Helenanne said, joking with her husband as they entered Prout Chapel for the first time since they were married on campus just weeks after graduation in July, 1962.

Jack winked back. “You can call me whatever you want, we’re just lucky to be here.”

The couple will celebrate fifty years of marriage and their fiftieth college reunion this year. Helenanne and Jack Frobose look forward to rejoining old friends and classmates for the Homecoming festivities on Sept. 29.


Project Runway to feature stylings of Falcon alumnus, 7/18/2012

Millions are watching a BGSU alumnus on national television as he expands his fashion career.

Nathan P. McDonald II ’02 is known as “Nathan Paul” on Lifetime’s reality show Project Runway. Nathan is featured as one of 16 fashion designers cast for the tenth season of the show, which began July 19. He has already displayed his creativity in several unusual exercises, including an episode that challenged designers to manipulate candy into something wearable.

With longtime aspirations to create his own fashion company, Nathan first intended to dual major in fashion design and business at BGSU. He was disappointed on campus to learn that the design program had recently been eliminated. Instead, he chose dual majors in business and music. His study in the College of Business Administration included a specialization in supply chain management, which helped him to understand manufacturing, and an internship in procurement at Ford Motor Company, which gave him practical experience in purchasing.

“Fashion is one of the few industries in the world in which you can continually run in the red and still be successful,” he said. “I knew that for myself, that wasn’t my metric of success.”

Nathan was an outstanding student, his faculty at BGSU said. He was featured as a student speaker during his commencement ceremonies from the College of Business Administration, and received the 2002 GlaxoSmithKline Excellence in Procurement Award as the outstanding senior. He was also a leader in the student organization related to supply chain management.


Faculty and staff change lives with Family Campaign, 9/24/2012

The Departments of Capital Planning and Design and Construction see the results of their donations through the Family Campaign, the campus-wide effort to encourage faculty, staff and retirees to invest in Bowling Green State University.

Maybe that’s why the staff members have celebrated their full participation in the annual philanthropic effort for more than a decade, and are among the 16 departments and divisions on campus to celebrate 100-percent participation this year.

“We’ve accomplished a lot because of the students,” said Jim McArthur, lead architect for BGSU.

As part of the Family Campaign, $824,694 was given by faculty, staff and retirees to benefit a wide variety of programs and areas, including scholarships, travel grants, faculty support and student organizations. Among current faculty and staff, 50.38 percent participated to give a total of $388,969. In addition, 395 retirees together donated $435,725, demonstrating their ongoing dedication to the University and its mission of serving students.


Compasses and maps lead Presidential Honors students to define own leadership styles, 10/29/2012

Presidential Honors students recently discovered that a compass and map could help to demonstrate their styles of leadership as well as to navigate unfamiliar terrain.

About 25 first- and second-year students used the objects to explore leadership and teamwork during an orienteering challenge as part of the Presidential Honors fall retreat in northern Michigan. Second-year students were tasked as team leaders for the younger students. They all camped at the University of Michigan Biological Station near Paradise, Mich.

“We want to push and challenge them in ways they have never been challenged before,” said Dr. Paul Moore, director of the University Honors program.

Orienteering is a sport that requires using traditional navigational tools to successfully complete a timed race outdoors. The tasks required by orienteering include deciphering symbols on a map and using pace counts to find the right path. Think: scavenger hunt. To find the clue to the next point in the race, participants had to answer a question related to their surroundings.


Rick Valicenti ’73 empowers art students to trust their creativity, 10/15/2012

Rick Valicenti ’73 is a celebrated graphic designer who leads an award-winning design firm and is recognized by the White House for his lifetime contributions to his industry. But none of that matters much during the alumnus’s visits to BGSU, because his focus is building the confidence of students.

“Just trust your sensibilities,” Valicenti told budding artists in his recent master class. “I know it’s OK to feel self-doubt on some level, but just know how much can be done in an hour, and how much can be manifest in a couple hours.”