This Valentine’s Day, Miami University Alumni Relations department worked to create a new experience for Miami Mergers to take with them.
Miami has long held a reputation for its abundance of couples and recognizes this by sending annual Valentine’s Day cards to Miami Merger alumni who have notified the school of their relationship.
Kathryn Myles, director of Alumni Relations and Alumni Travel, said this tradition has continued for 40 years, and dates back to the ’70s. Currently, there are 14,000 Miami Merger couples who receive these cards.
“It's one of those things that we do to try and reach out to our alums and you know, it's a romantic season,” Myles said. “We'd like to recognize their merger status during the Valentine's Day season, and it's a very well-loved program.”
Patrick and Connie Sidley, who both graduated from Miami in 1972, first met in their intermediate accounting class.
Patrick was an accounting major who had switched to the business school his sophomore year after initially majoring in chemistry, while Connie started out studying math before ultimately majoring in finance.
“Basically, Connie sat down at the same table I was sitting at and after a while, I figured out that I had to do something about that,” Patrick said.
They began to study together soon afterward, reviewing accounting concepts for class.
“And that’s how we started,” Patrick said.
The couple dated a few more years before marrying three months after graduation. Soon after, they moved to Belize.
After Belize, the Sidleys lived all around the country, including California, Iowa, Illinois, and Connecticut. They later decided to return to where they met and moved back to Oxford.
“We adjusted — [all the states] were all a little different but hopefully [we’ve] taken advantage of what every area had to offer,” Connie said.
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One of their favorite memories together was seeing their daughter graduate from Miami in December 1999. The two also celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at Miami.
One of Connie’s favorite memories at Miami involves the faculty they met there.
“I think there’s a special feeling for Miami,” Connie said, “because you have not only the connection with the university, but the feeling here that people care about you, about their students and how they're doing.”
Another couple, Mark and Amy Macechko, met during their first year at Miami. Mark lived in Stanton Hall, while Amy lived in Reid Hall, where Mark’s older brother served as an undergraduate assistant. His brother advised him to ask Amy out.
“We both still had love interests back home in the first semester, but in the second semester we were both single and went on our first date on March 4, 1998, and 24 years later, here we are … married for 18 years,” Mark wrote in an email to The Miami Student.
One of their favorite memories of their relationship was attending Charter Ball, along with kissing under the Upham Arch during their last week on campus.
Mark and Amy ultimately returned to Miami so that Mark could work as a staff member in the alumni office. His family’s history at Miami largely drove their decision to return.
“I got into the alumni relations work like my dad so when the job here at Miami opened up back in 2006, I knew I wanted to come back to Miami and Oxford,” Mark wrote. “This place is, and always will be home for me.”
While the physical alumni Valentine’s card hasn’t changed much, Myles said the communications team comes up with new themes for cards each year.
“So for example, this year's Valentine has a little twist to it,” Myles said. “It's called ‘Celebrating Me and You,’ and it’s calling all cooks. And we're asking alums to submit a recipe — either something romantic or something that's special to them as a merger couple.”
Ultimately, the team will use the recipe submissions to put together a cookbook exclusively for Miami Mergers.
“It's a really fun thing to get to do and to be able to participate in the creative process and to come up with something we know our mergers are going to love,” Myles said. “I think for me, the best part is when they tell us how much they love their Valentine and we see photographs and we hear their stories.”