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Meet the Armstrongs: The couple behind the new student hub

For The Miami Student

Published: Friday, December 6, 2013

Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 12:12

Armstrong

Contributed by Miami University

Mike and Anne Armstrong can take pride in the state=of=the-art student center made possible by their $15 million gift.

On Miami University’s campus, the name ‘Armstrong’ is synonymous with innovation and advancement, generosity and vision, development and success. The name is known, but the faces behind the name elude us. Who are the Armstrong's?

“They’re warm, they’re caring, they’re engaging,” President David Hodge said, “They want to make a difference in everything they do.”

President Hodge has worked with Mike and Anne Armstrong, whose $15 million donation named the new student center, since the beginning of his presidency.

“These are the people you hope you get a chance in your lifetime to be with,” Hodge said.

Mr. Armstrong graduated Miami University with a business degree in 1961. During his time as an undergraduate, he was dorm president and Commander of Sigma Nu Fraternity.

He said he believes it is important for Miami students to have a cultural, developmental and social center dedicated to them, and that the Armstrong Student Center will serve to be a key forum of activities enabling students to realize their potential.

“[Miami] provided education, maturity, motivation and balance to run as hard as I could in [my] career and life,” Mr. Armstrong said.

And run hard he did.

After graduating, he started working as a systems engineer at IBM and moved through the ranks for 30 years until retiring as chairman of IBM World Corporation.

In the meantime, Armstrong married his wife of 52 years, Anne Armstrong, who graduated from Miami in 1961. According to Mr. Armstrong, he and his wife began “going steady” when they were 14 years old.

“She lived 16 doors down the street in the city of Detroit, Michigan,” he said. “We went to grade school, high school and college together.”

The couple donated $14.7 million in 2007 for the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS), which, according to President Hodge, was a vision of Mr. Armstrong, who pushed for the program to be university-wide.

“The purpose of AIMS is to strengthen the transfer of knowledge in Miami’s curriculum through the use of digital and online technologies,” Armstrong said.

According to the AIMS Mission Statement, the program “develops new approaches in the creation and application of digital technologies that empower individuals and organizations to invent, innovate and collaborate in novel ways.”

Besides providing Miami students with one of the oldest new-media programs in the country and a state-of-the-art student center, Mr. Armstrong keeps himself busy by giving back to universities, to the medical community for research and to the disadvantaged.

He is currently contributing infrastructure projects to the Mayan Mountain Villages of Guatemala’s San Martin Region.

“We have a team on the ground bringing fresh water to villages, building schools, building and installing stoves, providing teachers, conducting clinics and funding scholarships,” Armstrong said.

President Hodge said he believes it is wonderful to have the name of such inspiring, generous people for the student center.

“One thing you hope when you put a name on a facility is that that name is going to stand for something special,” President Hodge said, “And I believe we have a home-run.”

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