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Alumnus and emeritus Donald W. Fritz creates professorship

08/17/2012

Donald W. Fritz ('56, M.A. '59), whose time as a student, professor and staff member at Miami University exceeds five decades, recently chose to honor Miami's faculty and support disenfranchised or marginalized populations through the creation of the Donald W. Fritz Professorship.

Fritz was a long-time professor of medieval British literature, director of the graduate program for the department of English and a former director of The Performing Arts Series at Miami. His gift seeks to honor the meaningful impact Miami faculty members had in his own life while also acknowledging the social progress Miami has made since he first arrived on campus as a student nearly 60 years ago.

“I was shaped and influenced by faculty members when I was a student, and I’m still in communication with a number of my former students,” Fritz said. “Creating a professorship seemed an ideal way of both supporting faculty and empowering the university’s efforts to improve the well-being of disenfranchised or marginalized persons.”

The Donald W. Fritz professorship will support a full-time faculty member whose research and teaching will help enlighten and educate on issues related to the physical, psychological, intellectual or spiritual well-being of disenfranchised or marginalized persons in our global society. Fritz’ intention is that the professorship will help reduce intolerance, bigotry, conflict or diseases associated with marginalized groups, such as those defined by gender, sexual orientation, religion and/or race.

“Don Fritz has left an indelible legacy at Miami University through his extensive contributions as a former faculty and staff member and as an alumnus,” President David Hodge said. “I am privileged to know Don personally and am continually inspired by his strong senses of commitment and caring toward the students, faculty and staff at Miami. The Donald W. Fritz Professorship captures both the spirit of his more than 50 years of service to the University and his hope for the welcoming and diverse community we continue to grow and advance.”

Fritz, who holds a doctorate in medieval British literature from Stanford University, returned to Miami’s department of English in 1968, helping to inaugurate the university’s medieval studies program. During his time at the university, he served as chair of the department of English’s graduate program, chair of the university’s awards and recognition committee, chair of the art museum development committee and as a member of the art museum acquisition committee.

Fritz was appointed director of The Performing Arts Series at Miami in 1982 and, over the next 15 years, built a nationally acclaimed series that attracted internationally renowned artists, orchestras, ballets, operas and more while also promoting young artists. During his time, Fritz founded the Patrons of the Performing Arts at Miami, which brings together donors to help transform lives through the arts. In 1988, he commissioned a ballet, "Urban Folk Dance," for the series, which toured internationally with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and was recently performed by the Alvin Ailey Company in New York City.

Fritz remains connected to Miami as a member of the 1809 LGBT Alumni Association Board of Directors, and his past support has included creating an 1809 LGBT Alumni Scholarship and helping establish an 1809 LGBT room in the Armstrong Student Center.

"My connection with Miami as a student and as a faculty member spanned more than 25 percent of the university's history," Fritz said. "Now I and so many others have the opportunity to help inspire a new chapter of that history. I am proud to support President Hodge's vision and to help promote a just and accepting environment that welcomes and embraces all Miami students, faculty and staff."

The gift supports the $500 million Miami University campaign For Love and Honor, which, as the university’s most successful fund-raising campaign, has raised more than $453 million in support of Miami’s priority needs.

written by Vince Frieden, university advancement

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