The following stories are of RMU alumni who have chosen to create a charitable gift plan with the university and, in turn, provide the gift of opportunity for future students. We are grateful for their generosity and for their commitment to RMU's ongoing efforts to change the lives of our students.
Diana Repack liked Robert Morris University so much that, not only did she get her bachelor's degree in business information systems from here, but she also came back for her master's (MBA '00) and her doctorate (information systems and communication, D.Sc. '06).
She also married one of the professors.
"I got three degrees and a husband from RMU," says Diana, who now lives in Moon Township and works from home as senior systems analyst for WellPoint.
In May 2012, Diana decided to give back to Robert Morris since it has been such an integral part of her life. "I just decided it was time to give back," she says, adding that she plans on establishing a scholarship in order to help future students. "I was fortunate that my parents paid for my tuition. A lot of people don't have that, and today the cost of education is getting so high. I thought this was the best way to thank RMU for all it gave to me."
Diana first started out at Penn State–Beaver before moving on to IUP and finally RMU. "I got extremely homesick and wanted to be closer to home," she says. "Plus, I liked the small classes here, and all the professors knew your name. You hear it all the time, but it's true: at RMU they really know you and care about you."
After transferring to Robert Morris in 1983, Diana chose the business information systems program because she wanted to get into software development. Following graduation, she held a couple of short-term positions before landing a job as a programmer at RPS (now FedEx). From there she went on to work for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and then TechRx, a small pharmacy technology company in Moon Township.
It was during this time when Diana first met Bill Repack, assistant professor of management at RMU. The two of them were attending a conference at the university when she noticed an airplane pin on his lapel. Diana was in flight training at the time and approached Bill to find out if he was a pilot, which he was. That started a conversation. "The next day he ended up asking me out," she says. "The rest, as they say, is history."
Not long after they got together, Bill suggested that Diana come back to school for her master's, which she received in 2000. She followed it up with her doctorate in 2006, once again thanks to her husband's urging. "He knew I liked to learn and that I loved being a student," says Diana. "Bill was very influential in me coming back to RMU."
RMU and airplanes aren't the only things that Diana and Bill have in common, either. A couple years ago they both earned their black belts together in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate). Diana is now a second degree black belt and is currently working towards her third degree.
Overall, Diana believes that RMU is important for the Pittsburgh region at large. "The fact that it's out here in Moon makes it very accessible," she says. "I love this campus.
"Whenever I go to the grocery store across from campus, I can hear the music from the stadium, and it makes me smile. I love living in a college town!"
When Tom Shook ’50 was growing up in Munhall, his father worked as a conductor on the Union Railroad, a U.S. Steel-owned switching road that moved product from the mills out to the larger railroads.
When he graduated from high school in June 1942, Tom accepted a job with the Pennsylvania Railroad as a rate and billing clerk. That September he enrolled in the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy – the original name of Robert Morris – taking classes during the day and working for the railroad at night.
In February 1943, at age 18, at the height of World War II, Tom enlisted in the Army. He served in both the European and Pacific theatres as a member of the 97th Division’s Heavy Mortar Squads. He was discharged in February of 1946.
Tom reenrolled in the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy that September, his tuition being funded through the G.I. Bill for WWII Veterans. Then, after completing one year of day school, he and a couple friends decided to start job-hunting in order to beat-out those in the four-year colleges.
“We used the phone book to locate companies,” he says. “I applied to Ernst & Ernst (today Ernst & Young) and was hired to start employment in October 1947. Meanwhile I took classes in the evening, when time would permit, which wasn’t much.”
He graduated with the Class of 1950 and several years later was given RMU’s prestigious Heritage Award.
Throughout his career, Tom never forgot the Robert Morris education that helped him get his first job. While he was employed at Consol Energy for 34 years, he established a Robert Morris College scholarship program. In addition, he has contributed to many RMU capital funding programs over the years.
In his estate plan, Tom included a bequest to RMU to establish a scholarship through the school of business.
“I want to help students who may not have the opportunity as I did,” he says, “and perhaps change the life of someone who’s not otherwise able to enjoy the benefits of higher education.”
Tom says he is most proud of how RMU has attracted highest caliber of leadership and instructors over the years, which has enabled it to attract high quality students. He says the university provides an important, high-quality alternative to major universities in the Eastern U.S. and elsewhere.
“RMU has an attractive campus, top educators, and state of the art facilities,” he says. “Seeing is believing.”
Tom and Pam Keeler
When Tom Keeler M’88 found Robert Morris’s M.B.A. program, he knew it was a perfect fit for him.
“I liked the overall exposure to marketing that it offered, as well as its strong focus on business and management fundamentals. It made sense for me and what I where I wanted to go in my career.”
Today Tom and his wife, Pam, are preparing for their retirement years. When they started thinking about what they wanted their legacy to be, they decided that wanted to do something that would have a positive impact.
“I’ve always enjoyed my relationship with Robert Morris,” he says. “Pam and I still come back regularly for athletic and other events. We thought our gift could best benefit students at a place like RMU, which provides students with a good practical education that gives them an opportunity to get a good job and make a real contribution. Not all universities can say that.”
Tom says that he appreciates how RMU has always been able to recognize what its niche is and focus on what it does best.
“President Dell’Omo and the rest of the leadership have been able to use the available resources to best support RMU’s mission of ‘changing lives.’ RMU is building and growing where others have been forced to cut back.”
Tom feels RMU is important to region because it not only provides a quality education for its students, but it also gives employers a resource for talented employees that can help them grow their businesses.
“It’s really a win-win for the entire region.”