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Miami alumnus donates $1 million to the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship

Rick Forsythe, Miami University alumnus, donated $1 million to the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship.
Rick Forsythe, Miami University alumnus, donated $1 million to the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship.

Miami University alumnus Rick Forsythe and his wife, Sandy, have donated $1 million to the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship. The funds will be used for the development and operational support of programs within the entrepreneurship department.

According to Timothy Holcomb, director of the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship, Forsythe's donation matches a donation from John Altman for the entrepreneurship department last year.

Altman committed $5 million to the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship and is paying the donation over five years at a rate of $1 million dollars per year from 2020 to 2024. 

Forsythe’s donation will go toward various projects within the entrepreneurship department with a specific focus on expanding co-curricular programming.

The entrepreneurship department has 15 co-curricular programs across the fall, spring and summer semesters. Some of the programs include the Social Innovation Weekend, World Creativity and Innovation Week and RedHawk Launch Accelerator.

Holcomb said the entrepreneurship department is already looking to expand programs like the Social Innovation Weekend to include more students.

“This latest gift from the Forsythes is especially helpful in that it gives the Department of Entrepreneurship flexibility to use the money wherever it is most needed,” Jenny Darroch, dean of the Farmer School of Business (FSB), wrote in an email to The Miami Student.

Chi Pham, a senior strategic communication and entrepreneurship co-major and president of the Council of Social Entrepreneurship (COSE), appreciates alum who give back to the entrepreneurship department because it improves the major for students like herself.

“It’s always nice to see alumni coming back and giving and creating new opportunities for students,” Pham said. “Personally, I know I’ve benefited a lot. I’m an international student; I wouldn’t be able to come here if it wasn’t for a scholarship.”

As president of COSE, Pham hopes to see the donation go towards a social entrepreneurship co-curricular but is more excited to see how the entrepreneurship department uses the funds in general.

“This [donation] goes toward creating a better entrepreneurship program that I can directly benefit from, so I think it means a lot that I know we have the funds to do a lot of creative things to test and reward students,” Pham said.

Forsythe graduated from Miami in 1961 with a degree in economics. After graduating, he worked for IBM, a computer hardware company.

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In 1971, he and a partner started Forsythe MacArthur, which eventually became Forsythe Technology – a tech consulting and leasing firm that grew to be one of the largest in the Midwest.

In 2005, he stepped away as president and CEO and sold his stake in the company to the employees.

During this time, he never forgot his alma mater.

His most recent gift of $1 million marks his third notable donation.

In 1992, Forsythe donated $1 million to fund a professorship in the entrepreneurship department, and in 2007, he donated $10 million to create the Forsythe Technology Center and Library and the Forsythe Commons in the FSB.

Holcomb said Forsythe’s long-term support has helped the entrepreneurship program thrive.

“It’s been almost three decades of financial support,” Holcomb said. “I’m sure those that have been around before me would attest to the fact that he’s been an engaged alum in other ways as well.”

Darroch agreed with Holcomb and said Forsythe is an excellent example of a proud Miami alum.

“Rick exemplifies love and honor – after graduation, he continued to remain connected to the school – serving on the Farmer School’s Business Advisory Council as well as on the advisory board for the Institute of Entrepreneurship,” Darroch wrote.

Pham admires Forsythe’s commitment to helping students who have the same passions he had as a student.

“I am really inspired that he’s giving back and matching donations,” Pham said. “Both [Forsythe] and John Altman are giving us huge gifts. Someday I really want to be able to give back and offer people opportunities for education, co-curriculars and internships because if it weren’t for the people that gave first, I wouldn’t be here.”