What have you done for 43 consecutive years?

Dennis Ramsier (ENG ’68)
Dennis Ramsier (ENG ’68)
Matthew Modoono /Northeastern University

Loyalty and trust are among the traits most admired among friends and the University of Pittsburgh has been gifted with some great friends over the years who have displayed those qualities through their giving.

Not long after Dennis Ramsier (ENG ’68) returned to the United States from teaching in Liberia as a Peace Corps volunteer, he made a financial gift to Pitt.

“I grew up in Star Junction, Pennsylvania, with a family belief that if you have something extra you owed it to others to help,” Dennis said of his decision to give to Pitt. “Also, I would not have been able to attend Pitt without the substantial scholarships they gave me. So it’s almost a repayment.”

That first gift in 1978 was followed with annual gifts for the next 42 years.

“I started and just never stopped,” Dennis quipped.

Dennis splits his gift between the Swanson School of Engineering and The Pitt Fund. Giving to The Pitt Fund allows the University the flexibility to allocate funds to the areas of highest priority and most immediate need.

“I studied engineering but I learned a lot from my non-engineering classes and from my experiences outside of the classroom,” Dennis said. “It is the total Pitt experience that I’m celebrating with my gift.”

John (A&S ’76) and Marsha Musulin
John (A&S ’76) and Marsha Musulin

The Pitt Fund supports a broad range of educational programs, including pioneering research in science, technology, and medicine as well as helping to keep the University accessible and affordable.

At 43 years, Dennis has the longest current streak of making gifts to The Pitt Fund, which was called the General University Fund when he started his philanthropic journey.

John Musulin (A&S ’67) is among the Chancellor Circle-level donors with the longest history of making gifts to The Pitt Fund. His first gifts was for $25 in 1980.

“I let the University decide the best way to use my donation,” John said with a smile. “They know how to use it better than I do.”

John started his studies at Pitt-Johnstown when it was still a two-year campus. He transferred to the Pittsburgh campus his junior year.

“The term ‘give back’ might be trite, but it is a very legitimate term especially for those who appreciate what Pitt did for them,” he said. “I appreciated the opportunity the campus in Johnstown gave me as I tried to get my feet on the ground coming out of a small high school.”

John’s impact on the University will last well beyond his years. He and his wife Marsha have included Pitt as a beneficiary in their estate plan.

Jack Hammond (A&S ’59) (front row, fourth from left) with the 1956 men’s gymnastics team
Jack Hammond (A&S ’59) (front row, fourth from left) with the 1956 men’s gymnastics team.

For Jack Hammond (A&S ’59), the idea of “giving back” makes a lot of sense.

“I came to the University on an athletic scholarship,” Jack said. “Had it not been for that, there was no way my working-class family could have afforded to send me to Pitt.”

Jack made his first gift to Pitt in 1972 and began including The Pitt Fund in 1991. As a salesman for IBM, one of his responsibilities was to act as IBM’s executive contact for Pitt, which gave him a chance to come back to campus from time to time. Over the years, he’s become more impressed with the University as it has gained an international reputation.

“Pitt made such a big difference in my life and now it’s doing the same in the world,” said Jack who annually gives at the Chancellor’s Circle level. “I wish I could give $1 million.”

For each of these donorsand many other loyal and trusting friendsThe Pitt Fund has been an important way for them to “Hail to Pitt.” For all of us, giving to The Pitt Fund can be an important part of the annual Pitt Day of Giving on February 28, 2019. The 24-hour online fundraising event attracts donations from Pitt alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends. Donors have the ability to give to any fund; however, in the spirit of gathering as one community with one voice, everyone is encouraged to also support The Pitt Fund.

Follow this link to read more stories from this issue of the Chancellor's Circle Update.