Ashel Bryan

Ashel Bryan (center) recounts his connection with BGSU while Ron Whitehouse (left) and Kermit Stroh (right), honorary co-chairs of the Building Dreams campaign, look on.

Retired banker’s investment in BGSU continues with $1 million gift

In the mid-1960s, Ashel Bryan was walking in downtown Bowling Green when he was approached by the University’s then-development director and asked for a contribution to his alma mater. The Mid-American National Bank executive reached in his pocket and dug out a dime. Within two days he received a receipt thanking him for his donation.

Forty years later, Bryan, who has since retired as chairman and chief executive officer of what is now Sky Bank, dug in his pockets again. This time, he has made a $1 million estate commitment to BGSU. “I’ve just added a few more zeroes,” the 1946 alumnus said of his most recent donation to the University, which counts toward the Building Dreams campaign.

The gift was announced Oct. 12 at the Tri-Board dinner during Homecoming week. Bryan has designated $850,000 to the BGSU Aviation Studies Program; the remainder, $150,000, will go toward maintenance and upkeep of Bryan Recital Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center. The recital hall was named for Bryan and his late wife, Dorothy Uber Bryan, when they made a leadership gift to the University in 1978.

“I am always pleased to give back to the university that was so good to me,” Bryan said. “I wanted to be a part of this campaign because I know the importance of the work that continues to be done at BGSU.”

“Ashel has been a longtime friend of the University,” said Marcia Sloan Latta, campaign director and senior associate vice president for University advancement. “We are most appreciative of the incredible leadership and support he has provided to BGSU over the decades.”

Since his initial 10-cent contribution, Bryan’s generosity toward BGSU has become a longstanding tradition. His gifts have benefited the programs to which he feels the strongest connection. Because he served as an Army Air Corps cadet in World War II prior to attending BGSU, the University’s Aviation Studies Program has always been near and dear to his heart.

Bryan’s dedication to BGSU goes beyond the financial support he has provided. He also has had a leadership role for many years, serving as a member of the board of trustees from 1968-76, the BGSU Foundation Board from 1985-93, the Development Council and WBGU-PBS’s Director’s Council, and as chair of the campaign to raise funds for the aviation program when it was being considered for elimination.

He and his wife were important to the arts at BGSU through their support of the Moore Musical Arts Center, the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center, the Bryan Chamber Series and the Gish Film Theater. They also helped promote Medici Circle, Pro Musica and Friends of the University Libraries. In 1994, the Bryans received the Governor’s Award for the Arts from the Ohio Arts Council and the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.

Bryan has been a longtime advocate for the community as well, having served on Bowling Green’s city council, board of education and chamber of commerce, and the board and foundation for Medical College of Ohio. He has earned honorary degrees and memberships from BGSU, MCO, Hanyang University, Beta Gamma Sigma Business Administration Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa. He was named Bowling Green’s Outstanding Citizen in 1984 and a BGSU Distinguished Alumnus in 1990.

Bryan’s latest gift provides a significant boost to the Building Dreams campaign. Since the campaign was started in July 2002, BGSU has raised more than $100 million in gifts and pledges. The campaign, which has a goal of $120 million by December 2008, is raising funds to strengthen faculty and staff support, increase scholarship opportunities, enhance programs and facilities and sustain the University.

October 16, 2006