May 12, 2011
By Jennifer Bowie
Since making their first gift to Ohio University in 1988, Robert D. and Margaret (Peggy) M. Walter have endowed a scholarship in the Russ College of Engineering & Technology; supported the construction of an essential classroom building, Margaret M. Walter Hall; guided the creation of the College of Business’s Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership; and made possible the renovation of space for and establishment of the Walter International Education Center.
The Walters have committed more than $17 million in support of OHIO and have left an indelible mark on the University.
“It is gratifying to support our alma mater in this way,” said Robert Walter. “We understand the important role that donor support plays in fulfilling the University’s mission and achieving its vision.”
The Walters both graduated from Ohio University in 1967, Robert Walter with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and Margaret Walter with a bachelor of fine arts. Robert Walter earned his master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1970, and received an honorary doctorate from Ohio University in 1997. He is the retired chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health in Columbus, Ohio, a company he founded in 1971 at the age of 26. He served on Ohio University’s Board of Trustees from 1997 until 2005 and currently serves on the Promise Lives Campaign Steering Committee.
“We thank Bob and Peggy Walter for their generosity to Ohio University. Their gifts greatly benefit students on our Athens campus,” said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis. “As we continue to elevate the student experience, it is important that we have the resources to foster our students’ learning and growth. Dedicated alumni and friends like Bob and Peggy help us do that as we strive to provide the best student-centered learning experience in the country.”
The Walters’ $5 million gift during the Bicentennial Campaign supported the construction of Margaret M. Walter Hall. The 44,000-square-foot building opened for classes in January 2004. It houses large classrooms equipped with video projectors, retractable chalkboards and video screens, slide projectors and document cameras. All of the rooms have interactive personal-response software that enables students to respond to questions from the instructor using a small handheld remote.
With more than 1,000 seats, most of the University’s undergraduate students will take at least one course in Walter Hall. In fact, this spring quarter 86 courses – accommodating some 4,670 students – are being taught in the building. These range from laboratory classes in biology and chemistry to large lecture classes in art and music.
In 2008, the Cardinal Health Foundation committed $2 million to Ohio University to honor Robert Walter upon his retirement from the company. Robert Walter took an active role in shaping this commitment into the Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership, which opened in March 2010.
“In today’s economy, teaching our students the complex principles of strategic leadership will further this mission,” President McDavis said at the Center’s opening. “If one of our students can leave Ohio University to be a leader like Bob Walter, or any of the other leaders in this room, we will know that we have achieved our mission.”
The Center initially will have three components: a select leadership program to accelerate leadership capabilities of high-potential College of Business students, an educational certificate program to develop strategic leadership skills for students from across the University, and a research center to advance our understanding of strategic leadership.
“The purpose of the Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership is to provide the education and hands-on experiences to assist in developing a new generation of strategic leaders – leaders who can identify new opportunities for the organization to create new or additional value and craft strategic plans to realize these opportunities,” said College of Business Dean Hugh Sherman.
The Walters’ philanthropy and their leadership exemplify the spirit and vision of Ohio University.
“Our vision is realized through our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends,” Sherman said. “Our ability to educate tomorrow’s leaders and lift our University to even greater heights is made possible through generous gifts from extraordinary alumni and friends like Bob and Peggy.”
On May 14, the University will celebrate the Walters’ continuing commitment to OHIO with the grand opening of the Walter International Education Center. The Center is located on campus at 15 Park Place in the former Sigma Chi fraternity house. The University has been renovating the building since January 2009. Robert Walter, a Sigma Chi, and Peggy generously provided $2 million through the Walter Family Foundation for this project in partnership with the Sigma Chi Fraternity and the University.
The Promise Lives Campaign – which has raised more than $339 million – seeks to raise $450 million in support of Ohio University students, faculty, staff, programs, and select capital improvements.