Devoted to his alma mater for more than 50 years, Doug Wilson (Miami ’64 MA ’69) died March 5, 2021, at his home in Francesville, Indiana, at age 79. He lived a life of Love and Honor.
Following graduation, Wilson served for 13 years as Miami’s alumni secretary and director of alumni affairs. After a stint at the University of Oregon, he returned in 1982 to succeed John Dolibois (Miami ’42) as vice president for university relations.
“Doug’s greatest strength was encouraging his staff to Think Big,” said Mike Macechko (Miami ’65 MS ’71), who, during his own Miami years 1973-1988, knew Wilson as his boss, colleague, and dear friend.
Recalling all the events they planned together, Macechko said Alumni Weekend had to be the pinnacle.
“Alumni Weekend was the showcase event that included bringing the Goodyear Blimp and the reigning Miss America, who was a Miami alumna, to Oxford,” Macechko said. “Doug was the one who envisioned starting a student alumni organization that became the Miami University Student Foundation (MUSF), which, in turn, raised scholarship dollars and developed the 20/20 Bike Race. That latter vision brought me back to Oxford to begin what would become a 39-year career in alumni work.”
Wilson was also well-known for his organizational skills.
“He was organized beyond belief and passed that trait on to everyone with whom he worked. I believe he invented the checklist,” Macechko said. “His 12-page Alumni Weekend guide was legendary and sustained many of us who succeeded him at Miami and other universities.”
Miami recognized Wilson’s talents and achievements in 1980 with the A.K. Morris Award, which honors those who carry on a tradition of service to Miami’s alumni family and the alumni association. The accolade was special to him as his father, Charles (Miami ’26), received the same award in 1964 while Miami’s provost under Presidents John Millett and Phillip Shriver.
Always the professional with a kind and courtly way about him, Wilson encouraged his staff to think beyond their personal interests and consider Miami’s best interests, according to Ray Mock (Miami ’82 MS ’83), who began in Miami's alumni office in 1986 as director of MUSF and Senior Challenge.
“He was a major influence in the early development of my career, and in my commitment to Miami's history and traditions,” said Mock, who retired in 2017 as the alumni association's assistant vice president and executive director.
“Doug truly bookended my Miami career. He was there on that first day, and I was deeply touched 31 years later when Doug and his wife, Kathy, returned to Oxford during Alumni Weekend to help celebrate my retirement.”
When Wilson announced in 1988 that he was leaving to become vice president for university relations and external affairs at Indiana University, he offered the following advice to his Miami friends and colleagues:
“As we have grown to love these red bricks, the springs of magnolias and dogwoods and the autumns of red maples and golden oaks, so must we understand and encourage those who strive to be the best they can be, and through their accomplishments, reflect the glory of the Miami reputation.”
Leaving was not easy. Oxford was where he and his late wife, Sue (Miami ’64), bought their first house and where their daughters, Hilary and Haley, were born. Both daughters returned for college.
However, he was practicing what he always preached — think big.
In recent years, Wilson, who retired in 2003, served on the Miami University For Love and Honor Campaign’s Graduate School Committee. He was also a class agent and reunion committee member, and, in 2014, participated on his 50th class reunion planning committee.
“Doug loved his alma mater for more than 50 years no matter what campus he served – Miami, Oregon, or Indiana,” said Macechko, who left Miami about the same time as Wilson to become executive director of the University of Arkansas alumni association and associate vice chancellor of advancement.
Mock agreed with Macechko, adding, “He was the epitome of Love and Honor throughout his career and his life. He will be missed by his immediate family and by his Miami family as well.”
Wilson's family obituary is online here.