Fall 2005

Value of University Connection Continues After Graduation

Melvin F. Brown, A.B. ’57, J.D. ’61, is the 2005–06 chair of the Alumni Board of Governors.

“Washington University opened up the world for me,” recalls Mel Brown, the 2005–06 chair of the Alumni Board of Governors. “I grew up in a small town, and going to college here absolutely changed my life. There were great professors who challenged us to ask questions—they made us want to learn.”

Brown’s experience as a student became the foundation for a lifelong involvement with the University. He was elected to the Board of Trustees in December 1999 and served four years. In July 2004, he became an ex officio trustee when he was named executive vice chair of the Alumni Board of Governors (ABG), and he will continue on the Board as ABG chair.

“Scholarship support made it possible for me to attend Washington University,” Brown says, and he believes in returning the favor. He gave his first scholarships in 1984 to the Olin School of Business in memory of his late wife, Jacqueline Hirsch Brown, A.B. ’63, who died in 1981. Their sons, Benjamin, M.S.W. ’92, and Mark, J.D. ’95, also graduated from the University, as did Brown’s daughters-in-law, Stephanie Zetcher Brown, M.S.W. ’94, and Rebecca Berkeley Brown, J.D. ’96.

Brown has supported an annual scholarship at the School of Law for many years, and in 2002 he established the Mel Brown Family Loan Repayment Assistance Program to help graduates of the law school who choose to pursue careers in public service. He was co-chair of the School’s Building Through Strength campaign and served on the Eliot Society Membership Committee. He is a founding member of the law school’s National Council.

Brown recently retired as chairman of Founders Bancshares. He is a former president and CEO of Deutsche Financial Services, a unit of Germany’s largest bank, with world headquarters in St. Louis. He was president and chief executive of ITT Commercial Finance before Deutsche Bank acquired it in 1995. Under his leadership, the company grew to become the largest in its industry.

His other University involvement includes previously serving on the ABG as vice chair for Regional Programs. He currently is a member of the San Diego Regional Cabinet. He and his wife, Pamela, are Life Fellows of the Eliot Society and members of the Danforth Circle. Last year he was named to the Executive Committee of the Eliot Society as national patrons chair.

Of his work with the Alumni Association, Brown says: “During the Campaign, we were focused on what the alumni could do for the University. Now, our emphasis is on what the University can and should do for its alumni.”

“We want to be responsive to the needs of alumni of all ages …”

The Alumni Association provides a wide range of benefits and services without dues, including the online Alumni Directory, the Career Connections database, publications, Reunions, the Alumni Travel Program, and events offered through Washington University Clubs in more than 40 cities. Many of these programs are open to parents and friends of the University as well.

Brown wants to do even more. “I’d like to determine what the Alumni Association can do to make the University even more valuable to the alumni,” he says. “We need to learn more about what our graduates want, whether it’s professional and personal networking, educational opportunities, or other programs. We want to be responsive to the needs of alumni of all ages and increase their participation in the services we offer.”

As the prestige and value of a degree from Washington University increases along with its national reputation, Brown wants to encourage all alumni to maintain their ties with the University. “Graduating from Washington University made a big difference in my life,” he says. “I’d like to help all of our alumni discover what a valuable experience maintaining ties can be.”