Philanthropists of the Year Award

Introductory Remarks by Tom Herbert for the Philanthropists of the Year Award at the Advancement Awards Ceremony, May 3, 2019

The Philanthropist of the Year award is the highest philanthropy recognition a Miamian can receive. Those who receive this award go above and beyond in advancing Miami as a force for good in the world – past, present and future.

Roger and Joyce Howe have shown their commitment to Miami for years, benefiting our students and faculty intensely and directly.

The written word is the most powerful and enduring force in human interaction. According to historians, the written word first was developed in Mesopotamia sometime between 3400 – 3300 BC. Hieroglyphic writing developed in Egypt in 3200 BC. It is easy to cite numerous texts since those times that have shaped our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Texts such as the Bible, the Koran and our Constitution; works of art from playwrights such as Euripides, Shakespeare, and Samuel Beckett; poets such as Robert Frost, Langston Hughes and our own alum, Rita Dove. This long history is a testament to the written word’s power which is no less today, nor will be less in the future.

Writing is also hard. For the vast majority of us it is not a craft that is intrinsic to how we think. Learning to move thoughts to written clarity takes work, discipline and, for most of us, help.

To remedy this reality, Roger and Joyce Howe established The Howe Writing Initiative and Howe Center for Writing Excellence. It has improved the quality of writing and scholarship at Miami for more than a decade. It also differentiates and distinguishes their alma mater. Those who graduate from a university as highly effective writers are much better prepared for whatever career they chose to pursue. This reflects well on them, and on our university.

The Howes continue to show their dedication to Miami and its students. Their recent $3 million additional gift to the Center is designed to further integrate and support its efforts across campus, thereby expanding its already profound impact.

We cannot possibly show enough gratitude to Roger and Joyce for all of their support and efforts over the years, but we will do our best this evening to demonstrate the immense appreciation we have for them both.

Please join me in recognizing our Philanthropists of the Year, Roger and Joyce Howe.

Acceptance Response by Roger Howe for the Philanthropists of the Year Award at the Advancement Awards Ceremony, May 3, 2019

I am our designated speaker; she [Joyce] is the designator. We are quite aware that we are the only things standing between you and a good nights sleep!

In a conversation with Phyllis Callahan during the reception, I mentioned the cost of attending Miami when we were students—that was in the middle of the last century—she insisted that I relate it to you. All-in cost—room, board and tuition—was about a $1,000 a year. It went up a little each year. When we graduated, we thought that was the end of our expenditures to be a part of this university. As it turned out, we were very wrong!

Joyce and I, undoubtedly like everyone in this room, have deep affection for this institution. It was here we met 65 years ago! Because it has been such an instrumental part of our lives, we feel deeply indebted to Miami. That has a lot to do with our presence tonight.

In our own ways, we all contribute to Miami’s betterment. For the Howes specifically, it has been in various ways. The biggest, and the one we believe will be transformational, has been and continues to be facilitating the betterment of written communication skills—the common thread of successful people.

In today's world, employers biggest single criticism of the graduates they hire is lack of ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and persuasively in writing. Miami, with nudging and support from us, has for 25 years been building writing improvement into what is taught here. We have much more to do, but what’s happening at Miami is being recognized nationally and, in a number of ways, is unique.

Joyce’s and my goal is to be around here when the day comes that employers are widely saying a major reason they seek to hire Miami graduates is because they write well. And, to write well means one has to think well.

We congratulate all the award recipients tonight. Special kudos and appreciation go to Phyllis Callahan who is, and has been, a great leader and partner in the thrust to upgrade Miami students' writing ability.

And, we thank you for this nice recognition!