It’s payback time. In the most positive way.
The wheels started spinning for Jim Reese, ’64, when he was asked to chair his 50th Class Reunion Giving Committee about five years ago. A little gentle arm twisting of classmate Bill Minor, and the two were off and running in their quest to lead their class’s successful reunion giving efforts.
Since then, Jim, along with wife, Shay (Harter), also ’64, have traveled to campus frequently from their Wadsworth, Ohio, home to participate in various alumni and donor-related events and visit their grandson, Paul, a junior international studies and computer science major. But the time has come for Jim to take the next step.
“I’d been thinking about doing something (to give back) besides the 50th class reunion,” he says. That “something” will come next month when he attends his first meeting as a new member of the Alumni Council.
Joining Jim as new Alumni Council members will be Leslie Behm, '76; Ed Burns, '88; Melissa Harrison, '02; Adam Hine, '13; Kurt Hodak, '84; Dave Krebs, '87; Tammy (Eavers) Metcalf, '92 and Joy Roth, '88.
As he considered his nomination, Jim was also motivated by his family’s Heidelberg legacy that dates back to Shay’s father, star student-athlete Karl Harter, ’28. Andy Reese, ’88, Jim and Shay’s son, is a former member of the Alumni Council as well. “Those things combined, I was just thinking, ‘Can I do something to pay back Heidelberg for all it’s done for me and my family?’”
So his answer to his Alumni Council nomination was a quick and easy “yes.”
He’ll serve proudly in honor of the many Heidelberg connections that started with Admission Director Dave Harkins, who convinced Jim that the Berg was the right fit for someone who was the first person in a very large family to attend college and to move away from home to do so.
“What really excites me about Heidelberg is all the wonderful friendships we’ve had over the years – with faculty, with staff, with alumni,” says Jim, who stopped counting at 160-plus. “That’s really how I came to the conclusion that I wanted to give back to Heidelberg in the same way those folks have given something to us.”
Giving back, though, certainly isn’t starting now. Jim and Shay have been long-time members of the Fellows Organization. They are regular contributors to the Class of ’64 scholarship in memory of their granddaughter, Rachael Reese, who tragically died in a car accident in 2015, the summer after her freshman year at Heidelberg.
Today, he’s excited to be part of the progress and momentum at his alma mater. With an emphasis on student recruitment and retention, the Alumni Council will benefit from Jim’s experience as a fund-raiser and a friend-raiser.
“I’m proud to say I’m a graduate of Heidelberg,” Jim says. “It’s amazing what’s been done the last few years and to see such great enthusiasm from the outside. It’s good to see the same things that brought me to Heidelberg … the personal connections … are still happening today. I hope we can keep that alive.
“Whatever way I can fit in, I’m going to give it my best shot.”