Prominent Local Alumni

National Alumni Profiles

Dick Blankenbecler 1954


Dr. Richard Blankenbecler is a highly regarded physicist specializing in algorithmic science and is the former Head of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University. He is particularly well known in the scientific community for his recent work on light bending in glass.

I was born in the hills of Tennessee, a true hillbilly at heart. After graduating from High school, a friend and I took off hitchhiking for the Midwest. We ended up in De Kalb, IL, for a promised job at a packing plant. Unfortunately, it was a ruse – they only needed field workers, pea pickers, at low wages. That didn't appeal to us so we searched for alternatives. After some thought, we bought some supplies, cut out number stencils and went into the business of painting house numbers on curbs. It took a while to drum up business, but eventually we were doing fine while living in the migrant workers camp. Then a traveling carnival came through town, offered us jobs, and I became a carny. I was a jenny-man, i.e., ran the merry-go-round. We stayed in a small town for a week, packed up, drove for a few hundred miles and started again. We were eventually fired for giving rides to kids without the price of a ride.

That fall, 1950, I started at Miami as physics major. I pledged Pi Kappa Alpha and eventually became a brother. The maturity of the members of the chapter, many were WWII veterans, was an important factor in my choice. I formed a jazz group playing piano and vibes. We played weekends in and around Oxford, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at Mack and Joes, and had a steady job at a road house in Dayton.

I meet my future wife, Lois Main, on a blind date at Tuffy's. We were married between our junior and senior years. I worked at Armco Steel Corporation in Middletown during this last year – leaving Oxford at noon for the commute.

After we both graduated, class of 1954, we were off to California where I took up graduate study at Stanford and Lois started her teaching career. I spent a year working with Robert Hofstadter who later won the Nobel Prize for his work. In spite of the fact that I am the world's worst experimentalist, I measured the size of the helium nucleus and first proved that the neutron is not a point, but has a finite charge radius. I received my degree as a theoretical physicist in 1958.

I won a National Science Foundation Postgraduate fellowship and went to Princeton University for postgraduate study. I joined the faculty and was awarded tenure 4 years later. Princeton was a wonderful place to teach and to do research. I am very proud of my excellent graduate students that I had through the years and served as their thesis advisor. Many have gone on to important positions in academia at top universities, in the government, and even international banking!

One of my top memories was a Tuesday lunch discussion group that J. R. Oppenheimer organized at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, in his study and on his dime, for a half dozen local theorists. During the period of the 60s, I was invited to join JASON, a scientific advisory group to the government. Certain of their defense activities are described, some even correctly, in the infamous book, the Pentagon Papers. Among the perks as I recall was a protocol rank of general/admiral whenever we visited a military base. Actually the treatment was uncomfortable for the son of a private.

In 1967 we went on sabbatical to the University of California at Santa Barbara and eventually decided to remain on the west coast. I accepted an offer to become a theory professor at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in 1969. I served as the head of the theory group for about 10 years during my 30+ years at SLAC. I retired in 2003 but continue doing research.

My wife Lois died from breast cancer on Xmas, 1990. That was a devastating event. Our two children were a constant support during this period. My daughter lives in the Bay area and tutors children with learning and physical disabilities. My son lives in San Diego and is a fireman/crash expert/bio-warfare expert for the navy. He has 2 sons, presently 5 and 3 years. His wife also tutors children with learning and physical disabilities in the public school system.

I remarried in 2001 to Sharon Coats, a refugee from Minnesota. We are living for the most part in Las Vegas, Nevada, but commute to Stanford often. Sharon telecommutes to her work at SUN Microsystems.

I enjoy solving technical problems and have 8-10 patents most in optics. I recently became interested in medical issues and have a patent on comparing protein structure that has been licensed by a biotech form to use in the search for new drugs. I have been awarded a National Science Foundation and a Sloan Foundation Fellowship. I am an Overseas Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, England and a Professeur Etranger at the University of Paris. My top award is an honorary doctorate from Miami University in 1989.

I am a former Fellow of the American Physical Society, a former Associate Editor of The Physical Review Letters, a former Member of the Physics Advisory Board of the National Science Foundation, and a past chairman of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. As you can see, I get fired a lot.

I have consulted for The Institute for Defense Analysis, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Exxon Production Research, Lightpath Optics, Diamond Microelectronics, and Network Physics Inc. I am one of the founders of Acclivity Photonics Inc, a developer and producer of new fiber optic materials for telecommunications.

Hobbies: I continued playing in jazz groups at Stanford and have even taken some courses in musical composition. A few pieces of mine have been played by local amateur orchestras. The warmest compliment that my music has ever received is ‘nonlethal'.

I took up rock climbing while a graduate student at Stanford and have been a member of the American Alpine Club for over thirty years. Some of the new routes that I put up are listed in the Climbers Guide to the High Sierra. At Santa Barbara I was a member of the Los Padres Search and Rescue Team specializing in technical rescues. Some highlights that stand out in my mind are: (1) being struck by lightning immediately upon summiting the Grand Teton via the north face and being unconscious for an hour in 1958 (I no longer glow in the dark), (2) trekking north from Darjeeling, India, towards Everest with Tenzing Norgay (the first to summit Everest) in midwinter 1965, (3) climbing El Capitan in Yosemite Valley (3,000 vertical feet in 2 days) to celebrate my 45 th birthday.

Ronald Fanning H. 1959

It is a partnership—and a friendship—that has endured for more than 50 years. For Ron Fanning ’59 and Clair Howey ’58, the relationship first began in 1953 as classmates and Pi Kappa Alpha, Delta Gamma Chapter, fraternity brothers.

Ron and Clair serve as the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of Fanning/Howey Associates, Inc., one of the most preeminent firms in the U.S. in school facility planning and design. Originally established by Ron’s father, Ralph Fanning, in Celina in the 1950s, the firm today has seven offices and nearly 300 employees in the Midwest and along the East Coast.

Fanning Howey has provided architectural and engineering services for hundreds of schools around the country, from Alaska to Florida. More than 700,000 students today attend school in buildings designed by the firm—many of them national and international award-winners.

As students in Miami University’s Department of Architecture and as pledges to the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, Ron and Clair hit it off as soon as they met. Both were hard-working, focused, and—when time permitted—sports-minded. They enjoyed intra-fraternity sports such as softball and bowling, as well as competing for the intra-fraternity all-sports trophy.

After graduating in 1958, Clair, a native of Ashland, Ohio, moved to Celina to join Ralph Fanning’s firm. Ron joined them after graduating a year later, and the firm operated with a staff of five (Ron, Clair, Ralph, Ron’s mom, and a secretary.) Clearly, the competitive streak that Ron and Clair demonstrated in fraternity sports carried over to their professional careers, as the firm grew steadily over the years. Today, Fanning Howey regularly competes against other top U.S. architectural firms to win high-profile educational facility projects in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, as far west as Anchorage, and even in the Philippines.

For Ron and Clair, a passion for education has been a life-long affair. Ron, one of a limited number of design professionals to hold licenses as both a registered architect and a professional engineer, has traveled extensively to promote the importance of well-designed school buildings. As immediate past president of the Council for Educational Facility Planners International, he has advocated for an increase in funds to support school modernization programs—especially in poorer rural areas and urban cores.

Perhaps the partners’ greatest contribution has been in demonstrating that school design—especially when it involves educators, students, and the community early on—can have a profound impact on the quality of learning. Fanning Howey has published extensively on this topic, while also supporting a number of research initiatives that explore the link between facilities and educational outcome.

Fanning Howey also regularly reaches out to college students, supplying scholarships and internships. Over the past decade, Ron, Clair, and the firm have contributed more than $100,000 to Miami University Department of Architecture scholarships, in addition to many other donations and scholarships awarded to the children of employees.

“We owe our friendship and our careers to our time at Miami University, as architecture students and as fraternity brothers,” says Clair. “We’re proud of the work we do, the many jobs we’ve created over the years, and the impact we’ve had on the design profession and on schools and communities. The university and the fraternity gave us a chance to learn to work together and to persevere at everything we attempted, from the time we were still teenagers.”

Ron Fanning can be reached at Clair Howey can be reached at


Roger Harris J. DDS 1962

Vice President & Secretary

D.D.S. 1968, Surgery Residency ‘70-'73 Ohio State University; Clinical Instructor, O.S.U. College of Dentistry ‘70-'73; Assoc. Prof . of Surgery, Director, Anesthesia Division, New Jersey Dental School, College of Medicine & Dentistry of N.J. ‘73-77; Private practice Mystic & New London, CT ‘77-99; Currently practicing Oral & Maxillofacial surgery in Milford, Ohio. Married to Linda. Parents of Craig, a dentist in Boca Raton , FL , Brett, Vice President of Advertising & Design, Abercrombie, Columbus, OH and Lesley a Nurse. He & Linda have 5 grandchildren. Hobbies include HO-gauge trains, sailing, photography, collecting Civil War surgical antiques and chocolate pudding wrestling with a trove of marmots. They have 2 Weimaraners they dote on: Ashley & Annie.


Bob Howard Frederick 1963

In February of my senior year, 1963, I was interviewing with recruiters from the then Big 8 accounting firms in the Midwest . Amidst the ice and snow a group of recruiters arrived from sunny California recruiting auditors. The opportunity to go to California with a job in hand was too much to resist, consequently, I headed west and have lived there ever since.

During the early years in California I spent a short stint in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and while working for the State of California I obtained an MBA from California State University at Los Angeles . Following a year off to travel to Europe, Hawaii and a ski resort, I went to work for a large conglomerate, INA Corporation and also obtained my CPA certificate.

In 1974 the entrepreneurial side of me caused me to join with a friend of mine, Kit Lokey in a fledging consulting firm. His other partner, Dick Houlihan had taken a sabbatical from the firm. From that beginning the two of us, and a secretary started what is now known as Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin, Inc. (“HLHZ) which is a specialty investment banking firm with approximately 700 employees in offices in 8 cities in the U.S. plus an office in London and soon to be in Paris and Frankfurt.

HLHZ specializes in three areas (1) It is the leading business valuation firm in the country as well as the leading fairness opinion provider based upon number of opinions provided (2) It is the leading middle market merger and acquisition advisor and corporate finance provider. HLHZ has consistently ranked in the top 5 firms in the country in M&A advisory services for transactions under $1 billion for the past five years based on number of transactions (3) HLHZ is the leading financial restructuring firm in the world having worked on such large restructuring projects as WorldCom, Enron, U.S. Airways, Trump Hotels & Casinos and is currently engaged by the Government of Iraq to help restructure portions of its debt. It has been a very rewarding experience over the last 30 years.

I currently reside in Woodland Hills , California a suburb of Los Angeles , with my wife, Susan and we have four children; a 2003 graduate of Miami University ; a senior at Florida State University ; a junior at Loyola Marymount University and a sophomore in high school. Hobbies include traveling, golf and skiing. I still enjoy traveling and golf with some of my fraternity brothers, namely Gus Pachis, Gary Snyder and Tom Bollenbacher even though we are scattered around the country. Forty plus years and the bonds are still there.

The recent reunion last October of Delta Gamma brothers at Miami during the years of 1960-1965 was a tremendous experience. Many of us had not seen each other for forty years and within a short while the memories were all reignited. For many of us the interest in the chapter was renewed and I strongly recommend and hope our lead is followed with other Delta Gamma reunions focused on 4 or 5 year time frames.


Matthew Klein Klein 1965

Matthew Klein was appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan on February 26, 2005.

Klein had served as interim dean of the college since 2002, joining Ferris in 1970. He now has administrative responsibility for six departments, 145 tenure faculty members, 55 supplemental faculty and 42 administrators and clerical personnel. The college includes such ancillary services as the Jim Crow Museum, Card Wildlife Education Center, Smith Greenhouse, Rankin Art Gallery, and Williams Auditorium.

He served as Assistant Dean of Student Academic Affairs for General Education from 1971-75 and was named Associate Dean of Student Academic Affairs of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1976. Following service as Associate Dean of Administration and Student Affairs from 1981-86, Klein was named Associate Dean and Director of the Center for International Education in 1987. He was appointed as Associate Dean of Student Academic Affairs in 1991 and Associate Dean of Administrative Affairs in 1998.

Klein holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Miami University of Ohio and master’s degree in education from Western Michigan University. He received a doctorate in philosophy from Michigan State University in 1969.

Klein is married to Nancy Peterson-Klein and they have four adult children. Nancy is currently the Associate Dean for the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University, as well.

He currently serves as a board member of the Mid-Michigan Community Action Agency and was one of four Ferris authors of the book “Focusing on College” published in 1987 by Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

His first political experience was winning the election for fraternity steward, the platform that he campaigned on and won was “Steak at least once a week”. He looks forward to future reunions, but he does not want wait for 40 years!