Barry McNamara  |  Published December 11, 2020

‘Monmouth Merger’ Couple Makes Gift

Bob ’59 and Marilyn Schneider Johnson ’59 work to establish need-based scholarship for students majoring in English, art or music.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Classmates Bob and Marilyn Schneider Johnson of Oxford, Ohio, are grateful they found each other during their first few days at Monmouth College and for the outstanding education they received.

'MONMOUTH MERGER': 1959 classmates Bob and Marilyn Schneider Johnson are supporting their... 'MONMOUTH MERGER': 1959 classmates Bob and Marilyn Schneider Johnson are supporting their alma mater now and later.Married soon after their 1959 graduation, the couple that’s been together nearly 65 years is now expressing that gratitude to Monmouth with a pair of gifts.

“When the pandemic started, we had just updated our will and designated a gift for Monmouth College,” said Bob. “We never got around to telling anyone (at the College) about that. But then this fall, we received the donor issue (of Monmouth College Magazine), and right around the same time, we got an email about gift annuities from (Director of Development and Legacy Giving) Gena (Corbin) Alcorn (’88).”

Upon receiving the latter information, Marilyn said of a gift to Monmouth, “Why don’t we do it now instead of later?”

After a call to the College’s Development Office, they were set to make a gift to help students.

“(They) made it very easy for us,” said Bob, who worked with Monmouth development officer Bobbi Swarts Pio ’92. “We transferred the stock and got it all set up. Instead of receiving a stock dividend, we get an income from the gift annuity. We both had such a positive experience at Monmouth, and this allows us to do something good for the College right now.”

Through their separate gifts, the Johnsons are also in the process of setting up a need-based scholarship for a student majoring in English, art or music.

Crazy coincidences

Bob recently retired from Miami University in Oxford, where he held a variety of teaching and administrative positions in a career that began as an English professor in 1964. (He replaced Miami English professor Jeremy McNamara, who left the university that year to begin a 32-year teaching career at Monmouth and whose son authored this story.)

Bob chaired Miami’s English department for more than a decade and also served as associate provost and as dean of graduate school for 10 years. Marilyn held a position at the university for 20 years, serving as faculty personnel coordinator.

During a stint as Miami’s interim provost, Bob attended a conference in Columbus, Ohio, where he met 1966 Monmouth graduate Anthony Perzigian, then the University of Cincinnati’s provost.

“We said to each other that Monmouth College must be a pretty special school to have two of its graduates serving as provosts of large universities in Ohio,” said Bob.

The making of a ‘Monmouth merger’

The Johnsons started at Monmouth in the middle of an academic year, arriving on campus in January 1956 after graduating early from high school.

“There were about 10 of us at that first orientation session,” said Bob. “I pledged Alpha Tau Omega not long after that, and I needed a date for one of our events. Marilyn was the only person I knew.”

“We both had to date for our fraternity and sorority functions, and we kept asking each other to go,” said Marilyn, who joined Alpha Xi Delta. “After a while, we thought ‘Hmmm, we’ll just keep going.’”

“Here at Miami, we call couples like that ‘Miami mergers,’ so we are a Monmouth merger,” said Bob.

That Monmouth merger almost didn’t happen.

“We both had such a positive experience at Monmouth, and this allows us to do something good for the College right now.” Bob Johnson ’59

“I was originally supposed to attend the Illinois Institute of Technology and study chemical engineering,” said Bob. “But at a college fair, I found out about Monmouth, and I learned that they had a 3:2 program with IIT. I thought that sounded like a good idea. The problem was, I started in the middle of the year, and I couldn’t take the science classes I needed until the fall. So I took some electives. There was a philosophy class with Sam Thompson and an English class. I got interested in the humanities, and I never went back to science.”

While Bob fell under the guidance of his adviser, English professor Allen Morrill, Marilyn was in a different academic discipline.

“I studied home economics and I also took a lot of fine arts classes,” she said. “Martha Hamilton was my person. She was wonderful, teaching classes on art and art history.”

Because Bob completed his degree in less than four years, he hadn’t accumulated enough courses for a proper minor, a requirement at the time. But he’s grateful to College officials for “creating” one for him out of courses he’d completed.

Another graduation requirement was passing a swimming test. Bob was an athlete – for more than 50 years, he held the Fighting Scots record for the longest interception return, going 95 yards (but failing, he said, to reach the end zone). But he was not a swimmer. He expressed gratitude to Monmouth coach Bobby Woll for giving him passing marks.

“Bobby was a very understanding man,” said Bob. “He passed me even though he probably shouldn’t have.”

Since retiring from Miami, the Johnsons have remained in Oxford, where until the pandemic they’ve stayed busy with travel and volunteer activities.

Back to News & Events

Did you know?

  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p><strong>Monmouth College is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement. Pi Beta Phi, the first such collegiate women’s organization, was founded at Monmouth in 1867. It was followed three years later by Kappa Kappa Gamma. The two pioneering organizations today boast a total of 275 active chapters nationwide.</strong></p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/student-life/sororities-fraternities/" target="_blank">Sororities & Fraternities</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 99% of Monmouth students received some type of scholarship or financial assistance.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/types-of-aid/scholarships/" target="_blank">Scholarships</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an active Pipe & Drum Band. Each year on Scholar’s Day in April the bagpipers wake students up at 6:00 a.m. by playing in the residence halls!</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/music/pipe-band/" target="_blank">Pipe Band</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 98% of Monmouth graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/wackerle-center/career-services/" target="_blank">Career Preparation</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an educational garden and 6.7 acre farm. Students grow and harvest fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Garden & Farm</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College covers the cost for all current students to get a U.S. passport. Unlock access to over 198 different countries! We’ll even help with the paperwork :)</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/study-abroad/" target="_blank">Study Abroad</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers unique academic minors in Global Public Health and Global Food Security for students who want to use their education to address global challenges. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-public-health/" target="_blank">Global Public Health</a></li><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-food-security/" target="_blank">Global Food Security</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We offer a certified Peace Corps Preparation program that gives Peace Corps bound graduates a leg up in the application process.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/peace-corps-prep/" target="_blank">Peace Corps Prep</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is proudly test optional. Applicants may choose whether or to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship consideration. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/admission/apply/test-optional/" target="_blank">Test Optional</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers several international trips each year during 2-week Scots Terms in January and May. Recently students have traveled to Botswana, Greece, Scotland, Japan, and more. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Scots Term</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We’re no stranger to winning. Last year the Fighting Scots won Midwest Conference championships in Football, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Track and Field. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Fighting Scots</a></li></ul></div></aside>