OBITUARY

Donald Lee Myers

February 28, 1945January 6, 2014

A Life in Service of AU

Donald L. Myers, AU’s CFO, Vice President and Treasurer, died on January 6, 2014, after a long struggle with cancer. He was 68 years old.

Myers had an extraordinary career at AU that lasted four decades, including 32 years as its chief financial officer. He served six presidents. His legacy included building the university’s long-term financial health and developing the human resources, facilities and grounds to support its academic programs and aspirations.

Introducing financial safeguards that saw the university through an acute financial crisis in the 1980s, Myers worked with university leaders and the Board of Trustees to build the financial health of the institution. Under his leadership, the university was one of the first to adopt many of the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, even though non-profits were not required to do so. With the Board of Trustees Finance and Investment Committee, he developed an investment approach that substantially built the endowment. He was proud when AU earned A+ (S&P) and A2 (Moody’s) bond ratings, and suffered no cuts to the operating budget during the nation’s most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. His effective financial planning enabled the university to continue to offer competitive compensation and benefit increases to its faculty and staff during a time that other universities were furloughing or freezing pay. During his tenure as CFO, the university’s endowment increased from $7 million to $550 million; the operating budget grew tenfold to $600 million; and total assets increased fourteen-fold to $1.4 billion.

A first-generation college student who worked on a farm, Myers was attuned to the issue of college affordability, especially for the neediest students. He kept an eye on the relative price of tuition, advocating for a long held AU position at the midpoint of peer institutions. Most recently, he and the University’s provost led the University’s Budget Committee in 2012 to recommend the lowest tuition increase on record. He also supported an increase and shift in financial aid from being primarily merit-based to a balanced portfolio of merit and need-based awards. Myers also personally supported students through philanthropy, establishing in 2003 an endowed scholarship in the Kogod School of Business, his alma mater.

Using AU’s financial stability and reserves, Myers focused on development of facilities and grounds, to support the university’s academic mission. Since 1982, the university’s facilities doubled to four million square feet, with another one million square feet in progress. The School of Communication’s move to the renovated McKinley Building this month makes it the latest school to move into new academic facilities. A new home for the Washington College of Law at the Tenleytown campus is well underway, slated to open in Fall 2015, and plans are well along for the new East Campus project, scheduled to open in 2016.

The university’s development has also been recognized for its beauty and sustainability. Myer’s team sought and received the designation of the campus as an arboretum in 2003. All of the new facilities are built to earn a minimum LEED silver standard, and the new SIS building earned gold. The university’s sustainability and green power programs have made it possible to meet the President’s Climate Commitment to be carbon neutral by 2020.

His leadership in bringing American-style higher education to parts of the world where it is in demand or most needed resulted in partnerships with new universities in the Middle East and Africa that facilitated their growth and led to full U.S. accreditation of one institution and the other on a path to do so. At home and abroad, Myers made a lasting impression.

In 2013, the Washington Business Journal honored Myers with its Lifetime Achievement award. On that occasion, he noted how gratifying it was to help the university he loved to achieve such significant growth.

Originally from Hagerstown, MD and a graduate of Shepherd College (now Shepherd University) in West Virginia, Myers started at AU as an entry-level accountant and earned his MBA in Finance in the evening program at AU. Myers is survived by his wife, Margie; two sons, Charles and Curtis; a daughter, Tracey; granddaughters, Elyse and Allie, grandsons, MJ and DJ, and two brothers, Larry and Ronnie.

Board of Trustees Chair, Jeff Sine said, "Don Myers’ impact on American University over his forty year career was profound and transformative. His commitment to AU, our students and our faculty was abiding and absolute. The Board joins the rest of the AU community in expressing our profound sense of loss and sorrow over the passing of a great man."

Next week, the AU community will celebrate Don's life, honor his legacy and express our condolences to his family through visitation hours and a memorial service.

On Wednesday, January 22, Don's family will receive visitors at Joseph Gawler's Sons at 5130 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, between 2:00-4:00 PM and 6:00-8:00 PM. Condolences may also be expressed in the online guest book. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Don Myers Memorial Fund at American University. On Thursday, January 23 at 3:00 PM, a memorial service will be held at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church at 3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW. Parking will be available in the University's Nebraska Avenue parking lot, across the street.

A reception will follow at the University Club in the Mary Graydon Center on campus.

Services

  • Visitation Wednesday, January 22, 2014
  • Visitation Wednesday, January 22, 2014
REMEMBERING

Donald Lee Myers

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Keith Bethel

January 24, 2014

Don was a wise man, an extordinary leader and someone I will always admire.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
--John Quincy Adams

January 24, 2014

To the family:
I opened the Post this evening to learn of the passing of Mr. Meyers. As a graduate of AU I am grateful for his stewardship of the University's finances. It was a joy to see him at AU functions. He was a true gentleman. My heart goes out to you. Keith Rosenberg AU Class of '69

cheryl chappin

January 23, 2014

Margie please accept my personal condolences on the death of your husband. Having worked with his division for 30 years, I can truly say that he was a wonderful man. He was especially great to me because of situation that I had and he resolved it with grace and helped me and my family. I will be eternally grateful. May you find comfort in knowing that he lived life by his terms and did all he could while he could.

Garry Curtis

January 23, 2014

Don was a consummate gentleman, a strong friend, and an accomplished professional. I was honored to know him

Darryl E. Christmon

January 22, 2014

Don was an extraordinary friend and professional. People like him do not come this way often enough. He will be missed so much but he leaves an outstanding legacy via his family, the many lives he touched, and his numerous contributions to American University and other organizations. I extend my deepest sympathy to Margie and the rest of Don's family and friends.

January 21, 2014

Don will surely be missed. May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your heart and soul.

David K.Combes (Washington, D.C.)

Bill Ahlstrom

January 20, 2014

Don was an excellent and extraordinary colleague -- and a joyous friend. His confident and optimistic vision of the university has embraced and enriched the experiences of near-countless thousands of students, faculty and staff over the years. His legacy literally surrounds anyone who sets foot on campus, and will extend for decades to come.

Few are true institution-builders. Don was one. I am grateful to have known and worked with him.

Susan joins me in sending Margie and the whole family condolences from our hearts..

Virginia richardson

January 17, 2014

Margie - I send my sympathy to you and the family at the passing of Don. Reading his tribute and biography, it is amazing to have come from humble beginnings and achieving such great things for American University. You are in my thoughts. VR

Wilton Corkern

January 16, 2014

Don's contributions to AU are many and significant. He also helped many other institutions in the region. I enjoyed working closely with him in the 1980s at the Consortium of Universities, and again in the 1990s at the Accokeek Foundation. His contributions there also were significant and lasting. I am very sorry to learn of his death. My condolences to his family.

Jan Love-Wehrle

January 15, 2014

Larry & the Myers family,
I am so sorryto read of Donald's passing. I have know Donald since I was a child on Daycotah Ave in 1961. Hope good memories will help all the family through this difficult time, PRAYERS!
Jan Love Wehrle & family