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$2 million Armstrong gift seals student success

By LibMueller
On February 14, 2014

The Armstrong Student Center (ASC) dedication ceremony heralded not only the opening of the ASC, but also the introduction of a $2 million gift from Mike Armstrong and his wife Anne Gossett Armstrong to create the Armstrong Student Engagement and Leadership (SEAL) Scholarship.

Armstrong plans for the scholarship money to become available to the university in spring 2014 so students can be considered by the 2014 fall semester.

"It's targeted for sophomores, juniors and seniors," Armstrong said. "They're one and two-year scholarships and the amount of the scholarship should average $7,000 a year."

The scholarship will be based on three specific criteria, Armstrong said.

"What I wanted to do with this SEAL scholarship fund was make scholarships available to students who are in Miami-sponsored student organizations," he said. "Then the review for granting the scholarship would be [based] on need, merit and service level in the organization."

For a student to qualify, he or she needs to be in a sponsored organization centered upon humanitarian, service or leadership purposes.

Mike Armstrong is a Miami University alumnus from the class of 1961. He worked tirelessly to secure a college education.

"When I was a freshman, I had a football scholarship," Armstrong said. "I had the time to participate in student government, which I did. However, my sophomore year I sustained a football injury and it would n't permit me to play anymore. I lost the scholarship, so I had to drop out and go to work. I went to work in Detroit on the docks and I accumulated some money and came back to Miami."

With the scholarship gone, his college experience was very different, Armstrong said.

"Without the scholarship, I worked in Oxford Uptown at the College Inn, 30 hours or so a week," Armstrong said. "There were no scholarships available that I could find and it precluded continuing to participate and find the time for student government."

Armstrong wanted to change that with his scholarship donation.

"I hope the outcome of this is that students would now have some scholarship money," Armstrong said. "In my era, it was working in order to get the money. Now kids take on debt as well, so what I hope this scholarship is able to do is permit students to achieve a better balance."

After graduating from Miami as a business major, Armstrong went on to an illustrious career as Chairman of the Board of the IBM World Trade Corporation, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of Hughes Electronic Corporation and CEO and Chairman of AT & T Corporation.

Director of Student Financial Assistance Brent Shock said the Office of Student Financial Assistance and the Division of Student Affairs will team up to identify students who qualify for the scholarship.

"First of all, part of the SEAL scholarship requires financial need, so people should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)," Shock said. "The second piece is that the scholarship requires that they be involved in a leadership on-campus student organization, so our partner in Student Affairs knows what those organizations are and who's involved, so we'll be working with them to narrow the selection."

Shock said the scholarship will not require an application.

Senior Director of Development Susie Sadler said many scholarships at Miami are funded through the generous contributions of donors.

"You have the scholarship that the university provides, which are the merit scholarships and those are monies that are built into the budget," Sadler said. "Then we have a whole other set of scholarships that are from donors and it can be anything like this that's set up, or it could be something that talks about merit, need, specific programs."

Sadler said for the larger scholarships, donors can set the criteria for qualification. According to Sadler, Miami recognizes that students often struggle with paying for their education. The university is actively seeking solutions.

"Right now we're in the middle of a scholarship campaign with our goal to raise an additional $50 million for scholarships," Sadler said. "We have a huge need at Miami to provide need scholarships and so this is one thing that we're really trying to focus on right now."

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