Volunteer leader serves, unites fellow Bearcats-for-life

Rusty Myers embodies best qualities of UC alumni family

“If you want to stay in Cincinnati and have a career here, there’s no better place to go than UC, because you’ll build relationships and your roots will be here.”

That’s what Judge Chase Davies told his grandson, Rusty Myers, in 1977 as Myers was contemplating his various college options. Stay home and reap the benefits of an interconnected community, or chart a different course elsewhere.

Myers remembers his young self’s reaction. “At 17 you’re like, ‘Yeah, whatever,’ but he was absolutely right. I’d grown up with UC, going to basketball and football games as a kid, being at alumni events with my folks, and working at the alumni center when I did. It’s always just been in my bloodstream.”

Pam and Rusty Myers renewing their vows at the Russell C. Myers Alumni Center

For their 30th anniversary, Pam and Rusty Myers renewed their wedding vows in front of the fireplace in the Russell C. Myers Alumni Center. Rusty’s sister, Judge Beth Myers, officiated.

That Bearcat legacy influence certainly carried disproportionate weight, seeing how both Judge Davies (A&S ’21, Law ’24, Hon ’59) and his son-in-law, Russell C. Myers (DAAP ’50), had been presidents of the UC Alumni Association’s Board of Governors in their day and long-time respected leaders in the university and Cincinnati communities. The building that served as UC’s alumni center from 1989 to 2017 was even named for Myers' dad.

The family ties don’t stop there. Myers' wife, Pam, earned two nursing degrees from UC, and when the couple chose to renew their wedding vows, the ceremony was the final event held in the Russell C. Myers Alumni Center before it was razed in 2017 to make way for an expanded Lindner College of Business, from which Myers earned his degree in finance in 1982. That renewal of vows was officiated by Judge Beth Myers, Law ’82, Myers’ older sister and, like himself, also a past president of the UC Alumni Association’s Board of Governors. There are more Bearcats scattered among the various branches of the Myers family tree, including Myers and Pam’s two children, David and Kate.

“My parents and grandparents were the role models who showed by example what Bearcat Pride, and pride in our hometown of Cincinnati, is all about,” Myers says. “We help to better our university and city for the next generations.”

Cherishing family connections

In Myers' mind, there is virtually no distinction or difference between what’s good for UC and what’s good for Cincinnati. He’s big on the idea of connectivity — the organic linkages between people, organizations, groups, and how they’re all striving in a synergistic way to elevate each other. It’s what he finds most irresistible about the UC Alumni Association, and why he has faithfully served as a board member for nearly 20 years.

“The UC Alumni Association does a great job keeping people in touch and letting them know what’s going on and what the university is doing,” he says. “They do killer events — always have, always will, they just get better and better. And bringing people together like that — especially physically, in the same place — is really important. Yes, technology and communications have changed, but the relationship piece hasn’t. I don’t think you build strong and lasting relationships over a Teams or Zoom call — it has to be in person.”

Myers sees the connecting relationship also spanning from the “college version” of a Bearcat to the person that he or she will ultimately be.

“Most people come to UC to chart their course for their career. It’s the stepping stone to the rest of their life, and we need to keep them engaged. It can’t be, ‘It’s been four years, here’s your piece of paper, now go get ’em.’ Rather, it’s, ‘Hey, we’re here to help you for the rest of your life.’ Whether it’s through career development or mentoring students or however else they want be involved, that lifelong connection is what’s important.”

Most people come to UC to chart their course for their career. It’s the stepping stone to the rest of their life, and we need to keep them engaged.

Rusty Myers Bus '82

Around the time Myers was a UC student, brokerage firm E.F. Hutton pierced the national consciousness with a clever ad campaign. The TV spots featured a variety of scenes in which two people were having a conversation about investing, often in settings full of noise and action. One would say to the other, “That’s what my broker thinks … What does your broker say?” The second would reply, “Well, my broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says…” at which point everything stopped and fell silent so that everyone could hear the rest of the answer. And then every commercial ended the same way: After the dead-quiet pause as all heads cocked toward the speaker to hear Hutton’s sage advice, the tagline intoned, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

Myers' brand of volunteer leadership is kind of like that. Almost stealthily, he calls virtually no attention to himself. He’s always curious, taking in the various facts and opinions, processing them against the realities he understands well from his decades of professional experience and knowledge of his university’s inner workings, and countless personal connections. He doesn’t talk often, but when he does, people listen. In today’s world of analytics and advanced metrics, he would lead the league in IPWS — Impact Per Word Spoken.

Humility and humanity

With such a service-oriented persona and a long list of organization achievements coming largely through his efforts and influence, it was no surprise that Myers received the UC Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award four years ago. Beth presented her brother, and her admiration for him transcended her acknowledged familial bias. Many in attendance knew well the man Beth described.

“It’s not a list of accomplishments that makes Rusty deserving of this award,” she said that night. “It is his distinction. It is his character. It is his humility and his humanity. If such praise was coming only from his sister, you might rightfully be skeptical. But over the years, many others keep describing Myers in similar terms: Wise … Kind … Generous … Collegial … Loyal … Respectful … Supportive. As his bio in your program states: ‘His intelligent, thorough and sensitive analysis in tackling important issues and decisions is legendary. He brings to any discussion an uncanny ability to hear and consider alternative perspectives and approaches. He practically provides a template for volunteer leadership.’”

Rusty with Jennifer Heisey and Steve Thompson at an event

Myers with his close UC friends and colleagues, Jennifer Heisey, A&S ’97, UC’s Chief Alumni Officer, and Steve Thompson, BUS ’80, LAW ’83, Myers' fellow former UC Alumni Association board president.

No doubt these qualities also made him an easy choice for the most recent Distinguished Service Award within Lindner’s Real Estate Program, with which Myers has remained heavily involved thanks to his decades-long career with such commercial real estate firms as Cincinnati Capital Properties, Tipton Associates and Jones Lang LaSalle, where he is currently executive vice president.

Speaking of real estate, Myers naturally retains a nostalgia and fondness for the Myers Alumni Center, and a vested interest in what will ultimately replace it. As it happens, when COVID put the world on pause, that included the process of evaluating and planning for UC’s future in terms of an alumni-focused gathering place. He’s sanguine regarding the loss of the old building; now, with circumstances compelling a reassessment of how a university might best approach alumni relations from a brick-and-mortar standpoint, he imagines something a bit different from the previous iteration.

“It was sad to see the building named for our father come down, but in the big picture it was a sign of progress,” he says. “As for a future replacement, I don’t see just an ‘alumni center’ anymore; I see kind of a ‘university center’ that the alumni are a big part of, with our ‘legacy history’ depicted throughout. I think that fits with respect to the UC Alumni Association’s service to the university overall.”

The beautiful Bearcat bond

A smile comes easily to Myers' face when he contemplates this larger notion of UCAA’s role, the connectivity that weaves through it, and the unity inherent in the UC family. When he saw the wisdom in heeding his grandfather’s counsel, he fell further in love with UC, and that passion has only intensified over the years. He cherishes the full scope of the relationship he shares with his fellow alumni — from paving the way for others to benefit from their lifelong UC journey as he has done, to the unique snapshots that depict the joy that comes from doing so.

Rusty with his children Kate and David at the Orange Bowl

When Rusty Myers, left, took his daughter Kate, BUS ’15, and son David, CCM ’17, ’19, to the 2009 Orange Bowl, he had no idea that subsequent trips to even bigger bowl games would galvanize the UC family.

“We share such great camaraderie and energy in being Bearcats,” Myers says. “Millions of people recently saw Travis Kelce doing ‘Down The Drive’ in the end zone during the Chiefs-Bengals game. That’s a galvanizing sort of thing for us.”

That happened just a couple days after the Cotton Bowl where Cincinnati faced Alabama in the College Football Playoffs.

“As we drove down to Dallas, you would see all the UC people, whether it was the C-Paw license plates, or the logos and flags, or just doing shouting ‘Go Bearcats!’ with other folks you’d encounter at some random gas station in Tennessee or Arkansas. I mean, here’s this string of cars basically 1,000 miles long going to an event that old-timers like me thought would never happen. Like, this is crazy! And it’s very special.”

So is the good fortune of the UC alumni family in having Rusty Myers on the leadership team helping to guide the UC Foundation and UC Alumni Association’s work.

This story is part of a series of profiles of members of the University of Cincinnati Foundation’s Alumni Engagement Committee, composed of volunteers who help guide the work of the UC Alumni Association within the framework of the Foundation’s larger advancement efforts on behalf of the UC community.