At University of Findlay, we know the caliber of graduates that are regularly turned out from each of our programs. We also know, very clearly, what kind of surroundings we have here in the City of Findlay and Hancock County. To be fair, Findlay isn’t any sort of a bustling metropolis, full of car horns and non-stop action from every angle of the city. But, just as the UF campus is regularly referred to by students, both present and past, as “home,” and as “a small college with a big feel,” the Findlay area itself is known to its inhabitants as the perfect place to settle down and begin a meaningful life and productive career. That’s part of why people like J.R. Haley ’81 and family give back to UF in more ways than just one.
When Haley was an accounting student at then-Findlay College, he saw firsthand the benefits of being at a private, family-oriented, small college. The rapport that Findlay students were – and still are – able to develop with faculty is a big part of what makes them successful both during their academic careers and, as alumni, after. Haley said that he can recall several professors who went above and beyond their teaching duties when he was an Oiler; one, in particular, was, as he said, “almost like your dad,” to students. “Ken Buchenroth was just fantastic,” Haley remembered. “He had so much interest in his students, and it was him who inspired me to eventually get my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. “The man, and so many other professors cared a lot about students. It was just a really great experience.”
Being from the area and graduating from Findlay High School to begin with, Haley felt strongly the desire to stay in the area after he graduated from UF, however being from Findlay wasn’t the only reason he wanted to stay local; there was an additional pull to stick around, at least in part, because of the inspiration he received from professors such as Buchenroth at Findlay College. Call it a sense of loyalty. Call it an obligation. Call it, simply, a love for the community and its University; regardless of how it’s tagged, Haley was determined to be a Findlay professional.
As luck, talent, and determination would have it, Haley was offered a job with Marathon Oil Company, now Marathon Petroleum Corporation, headquartered in Findlay, as soon as he graduated from Findlay College, and his life and career were off and running. His recruiting to University of Findlay began at the point when he was promoted to vice president of tax at Marathon, and the philanthropical relationship with UF began to bubble to the surface for his family then as well. As senior leadership at Marathon, and, subsequently, in an effort to find highly qualified talent that would understand as much as he did what Findlay means and offers to those who call it home, he turned to the University that assists in creating that understanding. “There was a bit of a challenge with recruiting highly qualified talent to come to Findlay,” he disclosed. “It was important to start reaching out to look at UF and its programs, and some of the things that we were looking for was that development in the students.”
That talent, he realized, was right under his nose at UF. And while he was recruiting its students to work at Marathon, he was getting more and more involved with his alma mater on a voluntary level. He said it was largely motivated by his interest in “staffing his team with good, local people,” yet, the more he got involved and met students and professors, the additional desire to give back in different ways grew stronger. “At that point in my career it also became financially feasible to support UF more generously,” he said. “The more great things I saw, the more important it became to give support in that way and with my time.” Haley became a member of the Business Advisory Board and got involved with accounting program and CPA focus, and developed the philanthropical side of his UF relationship by supporting, among other areas, the Findlay Fund, the College of Business Dean fund, and the Center for Student Life and College of Business capital project.
It’s worth noting, and certainly not just a coincidence, that the professor Haley mentioned as an impactful mentor has a scholarship in his name. The Dr. Kenneth J. Buchenroth Scholarship, awarded to UF students majoring in accounting who hold a 3.3 GPA or better, was established by the friends and students of Dr. Buchenroth in his honor. It’s yet another example of UF’s professors having a larger influence on their students – often well into their lives – than might be obvious on the surface, and it’s carried along by the mutual desire to give a better future to UF graduates. Haley, now retired from Marathon after a lengthy career, said he’s still focused on keeping that mentality going for other generations. “I just want to make students’ experiences better with affordability,” he explained. “It takes a lot of time to be a good student and if you’re trying to work and pay for education, it’s hard to excel. Anything I can do to make that a little easier experience, I’d like to do it. At the same time, fostering the academic excellence of UF students benefits Marathon and other area businesses with a more robust pool of dependable top-tier talent.”