Glenn Koch '86 Establishes Scholarship,
Reconnects at Muhlenberg's San Francisco Campaign Event
August 26, 2008
“I thought that establishing a scholarship was only for very wealthy people,” says Glenn Koch ’86. “I honestly didn’t know that I could do this.”
Glenn’s recent commitment to establish The Edwin J. and Margaret E. Fister Scholarship in memory of his maternal grandparents is being made, in part, through a matching gift program through Aetna Insurance, where he has been employed since 2001. “Aetna will match up to $10,000 per year – at 100% – when given through its annual giving campaign, which allowed me to double my commitment of $2,500 per year to $5,000.” Glenn has pledged $5,000 for five years to fulfill the $25,000 needed to establish an unrestricted general named scholarship at Muhlenberg.
Glenn made the gift commitment shortly after attending the San Francisco launch of The Talents Entrusted to Our Care Campaign on July 31. There he reconnected with Tammy Bormann ’83, Campaign Co-Chair and a friend of Glenn’s when he was a student. Though he had attended Tammy’s wedding (she wed Mark Paris ’80 in 1986), he had not seen her since.
“As a student, I was part of a wellness program at Muhlenberg and I met Tammy, who was then working in the Admission Office, when she was assigned as my advisor,” recalls Glenn. “We just hit it off. I had been struggling to just get from semester to semester at Muhlenberg. I didn’t come from money, and I had applied too late to get any financial aid other than a loan that had to be paid back each month.”
“Tammy came into my life at a time when I really needed a friend,” says Glenn. “Both she and Mark provided me with a lot of support.”
Glenn worked part time at Best Products in Whitehall as their bookkeeper and switchboard operator at night and on weekends. He also spent a summer working in the Office of Admission, doing tours and data entry. “I constantly had to be working so that I could keep paying on that loan every month. It taught me time management and strengthened my ability to find my own way in life,” says Glenn.
“When Tammy left Muhlenberg and she and Mark were moving on to Harvard, I was crestfallen. But she said to me, ‘God puts people in our lives for a reason, sometimes just to fill a need for a short time, and then they are gone.’ I think God put them there for me to help me get through. I really feel I owe my degree to them. It was so great to see her again in San Francisco,” he says.
The San Francisco event was a “light-bulb moment” for Glenn. He explains, “When the DVD began and the camera panned up the walk to the red doors of Ettinger, I felt my heart swell,” he says. “It all came rushing back, that sense of community and pride. A light bulb went off in my head – I realized that I, too, could give back in a meaningful way. I want other alumni to know that you don’t have to be wealthy to be able to give back.”
Glenn and his husband, Ray Tombaugh, who were married in June, are both financing the scholarship to honor Glenn’s grandparents, with whom he shared a close connection. “They were plain, common folk,” he says. “My grandfather wanted to go to school and couldn’t. He had a variety of jobs over the years and I have often wondered what he could have gone on to do if he had had the opportunity to go to college that I had.”
When asked about his favorite memories at Muhlenberg, Glenn cites the Red Doors, and Dr. Claude Dierolf, who taught American Realism and Naturalism, Glenn’s very first class on his very first day. Now, he hopes that a future student can benefit from the close-knit community Muhlenberg offers, just like he did.
“Now, some other person doesn’t have to juggle three jobs and a full course load and struggle to keep their grades up because the realties of life are getting in the way,” says Glenn. “This gift really brings the Muhlenberg experience full circle for me.”
To view more photos from the San Francisco event, visit the Gallery page.
More regional campaign events are planned this fall. For more information, visit the News and Events page or myMuhlenberg.com. For more information on establishing scholarships at Muhlenberg, contact the Office of Development at 484-664-3247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.