In October, Miami University’s Board of Trustees approved the naming of the future data science building after alumnus Richard M. McVey, who donated $20 million toward the project.
Construction is scheduled to begin this spring.
McVey graduated Miami in 1981 with a degree in finance and went on to found MarketAxess, a financial technology company, where he serves as chairman and chief executive officer. MarketAxess, a public company, reported $511 million in net revenue and close to $211 million in net income.
Conversations with McVey regarding donations began two years ago, when he decided he wanted to do something meaningful for his alma mater, explained Thomas Herbert, senior vice president of university advancement.
“Because we were wanting to go forward with that [Data Science] building, it was of interest to the donor [McVey] and so it came together where he was very interested and Miami really wanted it to happen and because we’d been talking about doing a large gift, things just … the stars aligned,” Herbert said.
McVey’s $20 million donation is “one of the top-five largest single gifts” in the university’s history and will be used for construction costs of the building.
When completed, the building will hold the statistics, mathematics and emerging technology in business + design (ETBD) departments. The building itself will be around 85,000 square feet and located on Tallawanda Road near Withrow and Benton Halls.
Provost Jason Osborne said one of Miami’s goals is to keep furthering its academic offerings, adding that President Crawford wants “forward-thinking institutions.”
“Data science and artificial intelligence are having a profound impact on all sectors of the economy, and especially here at MarketAxess,” McVey said in an October press release. “The demand for data science skills is growing rapidly in every industry. It is gratifying to help Miami build a distinctive program with this gift, which will increase access to data science programs for Miami students for many decades to come.”
Glenn Platt, department chair of ETBD, echoed McVey’s point about the prominence of technology across all professions, explaining that students are no longer entering careers void of technology.
“Technology is not just a tool, but is really kind of at the heart of what can now be done in the world that couldn’t be done before, in every discipline,” he said.
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Platt believes the data science building is important because it will facilitate collaboration between similar majors, adding that “naming buildings is a critical piece to Miami’s growth.”
“We very literally, I think, would not be able to remain a university that offers cutting-edge curriculum without it, just because buildings are very expensive to build, programs are very expensive to build,” he said.
The naming of buildings on Miami’s campus can occur for two different reasons, according to Carole Johnson, interim director of university news and communications.
“Named buildings provide an opportunity to honor an alumnus, faculty member, administrator, trustee or distinguished citizen for their extraordinary service to Miami or to pay tribute to a donor who has made a substantial financial contribution to a building, facility or program,” she wrote.
Recent named buildings on Miami’s campus include:
Nellie Craig Hall named in 2020 in honor of the first Black graduate of Miami
Armstrong Student Center named in 2010 for Mike and Anne Armstrong, who graduated in 1961
Farmer School of Business opened in 2009, named for Richard and Joyce Farmer (Richard founded the Cintas Corporation)
For a building to be named after a donor, there isn’t a specific monetary threshold, but the gift usually covers a good portion of the construction cost, Herbert said.
And in terms of what naming buildings means to Miami, Platt believes donors have the ability to lead Miami forward through their professional experience.
“...I’d also note that folks like Mr. McVey have a good sense of where industry is and where the frontiers of work opportunities for our students are, and so they can be part of trying to create Miami pathways that are relevant for the 21st century, and I think that, in this case, that’s certainly what’s going on,” he said.
The Richard M. McVey Data Science Building is expected to open in 2023, with construction scheduled to begin in spring 2021.