Why McMaster donors give: Ruth and Robert Miller know the value of hard work

Image of Students walking through Edwards archway.

McMaster graduates Ruth and Robert Miller created a $7,500 bursary for an incoming Humanities student who demonstrates "wise use of time, energy and skill."

Ruth Miller’s story is one you often hear at McMaster: I was the first person in my family to earn a degree.

Now Ruth, BA ’79, and her husband Robert “Bob” Miller, MBA ’76, want to empower more hard-working students to earn that precious first degree. They have established the Robert and Ruth Miller Entrance Bursary, providing an incoming Humanities student with $7,500 toward their education.

“I know from personal experience that university is expensive and requires a lot of time, energy and money,” Ruth said. Her experience shows the couple’s dedication to education: She taught full-time in the Halton District School Board while taking courses in sociology at McMaster two nights a week and through the summers.

Bob earned his MBA through night classes as well, keeping his day job as an engineer during his studies.

Financial aid was available, but much harder to come by than it is now. “Thinking back to my high school days, I remember how scarce scholarships were and how they were awarded only to the top students,” Ruth said.

In fact, it wasn’t until she saw the impact of her husband’s donations to his other alma mater, University of Waterloo, that she began to think, “Hey, I could do this at Mac.”

For their gift to McMaster, they knew they wanted to reward hard work and determination, in addition to excellent academic performance.

Ruth’s classroom motto from her career as a teacher — “Wise use of time, energy and skills” — is baked into the terms of the bursary: “To assist students who demonstrate wise use of time, energy and skill.”

Put another way, they’re looking to support “good students who work hard, but probably need financial help,” she says.

Building on their gifts, the Millers have committed to supporting the bursary long-term by  naming McMaster in their wills. And they can already see the impact of their generosity.

“It has been a real honour to meet some of these recipients. They are talented, determined and achieving,” Ruth said.

This year’s bursary recipient, second-year history student Morgan Crewson, embodies the Millers’ dedication: he works two part-time jobs during the semester and full-time during the summer.

“On a personal note, I was thrilled to graduate in sociology from Mac in 1979,” Ruth said. “Incredible now that I am giving back, too!”

Why McMaster donors give: At McMaster University, every single gift, no matter the size, has the potential to make a difference in the lives of our students, the quality of our research and our ability to give back to our community and influence the future. We asked some of our donors and their families what motivates them to give. These are their stories

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