Alumni Association Update and Info

The Alumni Association works to promote the interests and general welfare of alumni and strives to establish and perpetuate mutually beneficial relations between the university and its alumni, as well as authorize, promote and assist in the formation, operation and perpetuation of alumni chapters or clubs.

Meet Mike Darch

Trine University recently welcomed new officers to the Alumni Association’s board of directors. On Oct. 6, Mike Darch, BSBA ’67, was elected president, Rick Hoover, BSAE ’71, vice president, and Scott Brown, BSCE ’80, secretary.

Mike retired from NCR Corp., after serving in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and China for 34 years. His interest in information technology stemmed from his experiences at Ball State University, where he earned a master’s degree and a graduate assistantship. While at Ball State, Mike worked in the university’s computer center and taught computer science with Hubert Austin, Ph.D., who had been Mike’s mathematics professor at Tri-State. While at Tri-State, Mike was active in Student Council, Booster Club, Modulus Yearbook, Tri-Angle, Inter-Fraternity Council, Kappa Sigma Fraternity and Skull & Bones.

Shortly after Mike’s election, Gretchen M. Miller, Trine’s director of alumni relations and events, chatted with him about his new role.  Here are excerpts from her interview: (click on questions to see answer)

What brought you to Tri-State as a student?

Mike:  Well, besides only being 72 miles from my home in South Bend for an occasional weekend visit to get my laundry done and to see my high school sweetheart, it was actually Notre Dame University that sent me to TSU for my undergraduate studies. During the fall of 1962, Notre Dame offered area high school students the opportunity to enroll into a college selection program they had pioneered.  The program was primarily centered around the best learning environments, aptitude and interests profiling, vocational testing, etc. to aid a student in a best fit college or university.  The output of that program was direct: Don’t go to Purdue in pursuit of an engineering degree, which I was about to do, but rather embark upon a business curriculum at one of five schools noted, which included Tri-State.  Truly, this ND event had a most profound impact upon my early life and eventual career.  I never had one curriculum change, career change nor employer change for that matter. 

How did TSU/Trine help you to get where you are today?

Mike:  Tri-State provided me with a great education, even despite my efforts at times. But equally important was the character, leadership and social development the university setting provided. I have no doubt that I would not have achieved the career and life successes without the knowledge and relationships built at TSU. 

How do you feel about Trine’s changes since your graduation?

Mike:  One word – amazing.  Actually, I have been coming back regularly, starting soon after my graduation.  For many years the school remained as I left it.  Thinking back now, I have to attribute the metamorphous to our current administration. The change started ever so subtly, buildings started to change for the better, along with many enriched student activities.  The total landscape and atmosphere of the school is vastly superior to the way it was even 10 years ago – quite amazing!  

And the name change?

Mike: I am sure my reaction was not much different than many alumni: sadness, and of course, questioning the reason for the change. Tri-State was and continues to be a huge part of my life.  But after coming to grasp with all the positive benefits the name change provided, logic overcame the emotion.  Unknown to many alumni, the name change was not an impulse.  It was a well-thought plan that was being pursued years before it happened. And of all the names the university could have been, it is a fitting tribute to the sincere care, kindness and generosity of the Trine family.  So to answer your question directly, I am more than OK with it.  And in life, what stays the same forever?

Why did you step up to the position of president of the Alumni Association?

Mike:  I stepped up because over the last few years I have seen and been involved with the progress that past presidents Jim Bullard and, most recently, Col. George Higginson have accomplished through their leadership with the association.  Truly, they have been role models that made it easy to assume the responsibility to carry on their work.  Besides, they are both still active board participants that have vowed to keep me out of trouble.

Is there anything that could be improved upon to prove beneficial for alumni?

Mike:  There needs to be more programs that assist alumni in networking. This can take place at area alumni gatherings or on campus. There has been success in working with the university to create several countrywide events that gather our alumni together for an outing or merely to enjoy a dinner together. Having been involved in a few of these, it has been extremely enjoyable. Meeting fellow alumni and hearing of one another’s school and life experiences has been uplifting. So many of our alumni have accomplished and experienced so much that beckons to be shared. Oh, yes, and to attract alumni to return to campus. For many who haven’t been back, it is quite an eye opener as you might well imagine.

What is your goal for your first term as a new association president?

Mike:  As a board we plan to sort out objectives before our first meeting in early February; however, for sure it will include specific plans and programs to increase active association membership.  Our current active membership represents a small percentage of our 17,000-plus alumni. We need to do a much better job re-engaging alumni and providing more meaningful outlets for them to get and stay involved. 

Thank you, Mike! Welcome to your role as President of the Alumni Association. We look forward to hearing more from you and the Alumni Association Board in future ThunderBolt issues.

For more information about the Alumni Association or ways to become involved, visit www.trine.edu/alumni_advancement/alumni_association/.