Fred Carlisle ’56 has spent much of his professional career thinking about the best way to prepare students for the world. As that world has changed, he has worked at several universities as a professor and administrator — including one in the Middle East. Through his experiences, Carlisle has grown more committed to the importance of educating moral leaders for a global society.
When he looked at how he might say thank you to the university that helped set him on his life’s path and connected him to his passions, he was drawn to The OWU Connection and its emphasis on this ideal. He created the Carlisle Family Endowment for The OWU Connection through outright gifts of $200,000 and with a $50,000 estate commitment.
Carlisle hopes his support of The OWU Connection will enable more students to better translate their academic research from the classroom into practical workplace experience through a global lens.
“The OWU Connection is a way of engaging both the intellectual and the expectations of the everyday world” he says.
A global citizen, Carlisle says, should be someone who understands the complexities of global politics and cultures, and someone who wants to make the world a better place. “A global citizen has to understand something about the rest of the world and different expectations of other countries,” he says.
“They don’t think everything is for me and America first, or America only.”
Carlisle’s thoughts on place have also informed his writing. In his 2006 biography of his father, Searching for Ervin: A Boy From Columbus, A Man of Delaware, Carlisle looked into the life and times of Ervin Carlisle ’31, who married Winifred Lucas Pope ’31.
Thoughts of the Carlisle OWU legacy also guide Fred’s giving. “It seemed like one way to acknowledge the importance of the University in my life and a way of identifying with my parents, who were both OWU grads. My family now has a (permanent) place there,” he says.
While at OWU, he was a member of the honorary societies Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Beta Kappa. He was also a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, just like his father.
After graduating with a degree in English, Carlisle has spent a career in higher education. He earned his master of arts degree from Ohio State University and his doctorate from Indiana University before joining the English faculty at Michigan State University, where he was chair of the department, and serving as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Miami (Ohio) University, with stops at Ohio University, DePauw University, and Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. He served as senior vice president and provost at Virginia Tech until 1995, and is now provost emeritus.
“OWU did more than just change my life,” Carlisle says. “It gave me a life in the academic world. I have a real debt to the University and the faculty.”
Carlisle has chosen to repay this “debt” not just through the creation of the Carlisle Endowment, but also with gifts of art — valued at $50,000 — to the Ross Art Museum. His donation of a sculpture by Albert Paley, a major American artist, greets visitors to the museum in the lobby. He also has donated nine pieces of Zimbabwean stone art by internationally renowned African artists.
Currently, Carlisle is back to thinking about his place in the world. He’s in the process of finishing the book Hollow and Home: A History of Self and Place, which will be published in August.
– A.L. Davies ’19