For Dale Strohl, giving back is natural. After all, he learned that when he was just a child. Every Christmas, Dale’s grandfather would take him into town to see the holiday lights and decorations. And, every year, they would stop at The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettle to cheer on the bell-ringing volunteers. “My grandfather always put a $20 bill into the kettle,” says Dale. “He worked in the steel industry in Bethlehem, PA, near where I grew up and our family did not have money to spare. There were a lot of things we could have bought with that money. But he wanted me to understand that giving to those in need is important.”
These many years later, philanthropy is central to Dale’s core belief system. When he retired nearly 20 years ago from a senior position with Tiffany & Co., he knew that a vital part of his new chapter would be giving back to the community. Establishing major scholarship endowments at Ringling College was at the top of that list.
Why are scholarships so important to him?
When it was time for Dale to go to college, his family did not have the money to send him to a university far from Allentown, PA, where they lived. So, he chose Lehigh University, a great school, but close so that he could live at home. Dale graduated from Lehigh in 1958 with a degree in industrial psychology. After serving in the army, he went on to achieve notable success in the fields of human resources and operations at two of the nation’s top firms—Avon and Tiffany & Co. Throughout his career, Dale never lost sight of the fact that he was the first generation of his family to go to college and vowed to make it possible for others to enjoy the same advantage.
Fast forward several decades. When Dale moved to the Sarasota area in 2001, he looked for worthy efforts to become involved with. Eventually, he was asked to participate as a member of the scholarship committee at Ringling College.
“At that point, I didn’t know much about the College,” Dale says. “I decided to go to campus and spend a few days just observing.” Those few days opened his eyes. What he saw were engaged young students who represented a cross-section of the global village. He recognized that many of them were first-generation college students—just as he had been.
Dale knew a good thing when he saw it.
The next day he committed substantial funds to establish an endowed scholarship. Shortly afterward, Dale increased his original commitment by converting his endowed scholarship into a Masterpiece Endowed Scholarship. This remarkable scholarship, once fully funded, ensures that a student will receive a full tuition scholarship every year in perpetuity.
“From day one, I saw the real potential of these young people—and what Ringling College offers them,” he says. “Ringling students are not just here for an isolated education; they come here with a goal in mind—to get a job. And not any job. Ringling College students are consistently offered the top tier jobs in their field of study. These students are passionate about what they’re learning, and about what the future holds for them.”
Thanks to Dale’s philanthropic efforts, two students receive substantial scholarships every year. Ultimately, his philanthropy will guarantee full tuition for one student on an annual basis.
Dale’s commitment is deeply personal. He enjoys meeting with scholarship recipients and learning more about their hopes and dreams. He knows his support has made a difference when he sees these students maximizing their potential in Ringling College’s supportive academic community.
When he watches these same students begin the first steps of their new careers doing what they love.
“Anything is possible for these talented students. I’m amazed at what they do now. I’m sure they’re going to dazzle us in the future.”
By Su Byron | Photo by Matthew Holler (Photography & Imaging, ‘11)
Su Byron is a poet and freelance writer based in Sarasota.