Teammates of Pioneer swimming team co-captain Tom Allen (left of trophy) created the Tom Allen Memorial Swimming and Diving Endowment after Allen passed away in September 2014.


Winter 2016

|  by Nina Googasian and Eric Reikowski


Groups unite to create endowments

A growing trend is for groups to unite and fund gifts in honor of an individual or as a memorial tribute.

Scholarship endowments are a way for friends, family and colleagues to celebrate an individual’s contributions to the OU community while creating a lasting legacy.

“The idea that people are collaborating to fund something that is important to them is quite meaningful,” said Kelly Brault, interim executive director of Planned and Annual Giving. “Individuals realize they can make a greater impact by working together. The fact that endowments are forever is also powerful, and the possibilities to transform OU and its future are endless.”

Ron Kevern: Honoring an OU leader who touched lives

More than 20 years have passed since Ron Kevern retired from Oakland University as assistant vice president of Student Affairs. He lives in Arizona now, but by all accounts, his ties to the University and to the Rochester area are as strong as ever.

Ron & Marilyn Kevern
Ron Kevern and his wife, Marilyn, now live in Arizona.

Those ties are evident in the frequent cards, letters, emails and phone calls Kevern continues to receive from friends and colleagues who crossed his path in the years he worked at Oakland University and Rochester Community Schools.

Recognizing his tremendous contributions during his long career, Kevern’s former OU colleagues are raising funds for the Ron B. Kevern Scholarship Endowment. The endowment will fund an annual scholarship to be awarded to an OU student who graduated from Rochester Community Schools.

Nancy Schmitz, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students and Beth Talbert, special instructor of Communication, are helping promote the endowment as it moves toward a $25,000 fundraising goal.

“Ron was such a great champion for both OU and Rochester,” said Schmitz, who worked with Kevern for 10 years until his retirement in 1993. “This endowment is the perfect way to recognize all of the wonderful contributions he made and all of the lives he touched over many years.”

Kevern, 82, who celebrated his 80th birthday with a special dinner at Meadow Brook Hall, looks forward to seeing the endowment’s impact.

“I’m so honored that people thought of me for this endowment,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing that usually only happens when someone dies. I’m still around and very excited to see it benefit students.”

“I have a lot of pride in OU,” he added. “It’s a special place with wonderful people. I love keeping in touch and hearing all the great things that are happening.”

Tom Allen: A lasting tribute in memory of a friend

In 1980, the Pioneers Swimming and Diving team won the NCAA Division II men’s Swimming and Diving Championships ― the University’s first ― under Coach Ernie Maglischo. Advertising executive Tim Murphy, SBA ’82, of Manhattan Beach, California, was a teammate of Tom Allen's during the record-breaking 1979-80 championship season. 

Allen was an NCAA All-American, breaking several collegiate swimming records for the 100-yard breaststroke and 400-medley relay, according to current Coach Pete Hovland. In 1980, Allen graduated cum laude from OU with a degree in political science and history and went on to earn a law degree from Wayne State University. He practiced law in Detroit and eventually made Atlanta his home.

Murphy and Allen remained best friends, spending vacations together and serving as best man at each other’s weddings. Murphy’s guest bedroom became known as “Tom’s Room.”

When Allen’s teammates learned of his death on September 27, 2014, they knew they wanted to pay tribute to his exemplary leadership.

“At the funeral, all his buddies said, ‘we’ve got do something to honor Tommy,” Hovland said.

He and Murphy discussed what more they could do. After communicating with OU’s Development Office and Athletics, “we discovered that if we could raise $25,000, we could endow a scholarship and could give it to someone each year based on the interest that it accrues,” Hovland said.

Hovland sent an email to 20 or so of Tom’s friends ― doctors, lawyers and engineers. “I said ‘let’s make this happen before next year, and could I count on them?’

"Within 24 hours, we received the commitments necessary to reach our goal of $25,000 in gifts and pledges. I hadn’t even gotten it out to the rest of the alums,” Hovland said.

Starting next year, the Tom Allen Memorial Swimming and Diving Endowment will support one swimming/diving student athlete each year.

“Tom Allen was a magnet, a very fun, creative guy. Now our team will have a way to honor him and remember him each year,” Hovland said. “We miss him.”  


Endowments continue to grow with annual support at any gift level. Brault added, “You don’t have to be wealthy to make a difference.”

To contribute to these endowments or to create a new fund, contact Kelly Brault at (248) 370-4921 or

Nina Googasian is a freelance writer from West Bloomfield, Michigan. Eric Reikowski is a writer in OU's Media Relations Department.