Why I Give: David and Sandy Rozelle

Contact: Amie Heasley

David, MSA ‘75, and Sandy Rozelle, MA ‘73, are dedicated to putting the education of younger generations within reach.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—“I became an accounting professor by accident,” says David Rozelle, MSA ′75.

More like “happy accident,” since Rozelle went on to serve in this role for nearly 40 years—and did so with enthusiasm and distinction.

During his teaching career, Rozelle was a chair of the department as well as the faculty advisor to WMU’s award-winning chapter of the accounting honorary Beta Alpha Psi for 25 years. He was also highly decorated, receiving two Distinguished Teaching Awards, the Distinguished Service Award, the Interfraternity-Panhellenic Council Teaching Excellence Award, two Beta Alpha Psi Faculty Advisor of the Year Awards and the Haworth College of Business Outstanding Service Award.

Not bad for a discipline he didn’t plan on pursuing.

Rozelle came to Western in 1970 on a one-year appointment to teach a western civilization course for the Department of History. He went on to become one of WMU’s first Master of Science in Accountancy graduates, passed the CPA exam and received tenure in 1981—despite not having a doctorate. He was later made a named professor under a plan by then-President Diether Haenicke to honor outstanding teachers with a three-year appointment to a named chair and a 25-year scholarship was established in his name.

“My colleagues called it a folding chair,” Rozelle says.

Rozelle’s wife is a fellow Bronco, too. Sandy Rozelle, MA ′73, taught French for most of her career at Hackett Catholic Prep High School and garnered several significant educational awards of her own.

The Rozelles will soon celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary and have continually given back over the decades to the alma mater they both cherish. “My graduate degree at Western prepared me exceptionally well for my career as a teacher of French,” Sandy says, “and I’m also motivated by the fact that scholarships made my own undergraduate experience possible.”

Recently, the couple decided to make an even bigger impact by donating real estate to fund both scholarships in accountancy and languages at Western. “Since my wife and I have no children, we thought, ‘What’s to become of our home on our passing?’” Rozelle says. “Obviously, we left it to the place that had given us so much.”

A heart of brown and gold

In addition to supporting Broncos, two of his biggest philanthropic passions have been local hunger prevention and organ donation awareness.

A recipient of a heart transplant in 2001, he became very active in Michigan Gift of Life, signing up thousands of people to the donor registry and competing in several World Transplant Games around the world. In 2020, he walked alongside the Donate Life float during the iconic Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

“I have many great memories,” Rozelle says. “I recall attending a wedding of a former Beta Alpha Psi student on an island off the coast of France. I watched members of my network run a 200-mile course in Northern California as part of a relay team to raise awareness for organ donation. I have learned that one of our graduates is CFO at Dell, another is a PhD in the accounting department at Central Florida University and dozens are in partner and leadership roles at all the public accounting firms.” One of Rozelle’s former students, Dave Dombrowski, BBA ’79, is an American baseball executive who was the general manager of the Detroit Tigers from 2002-15.

Rozelle retired from WMU in 2007. Outside of teaching, he and Sandy have enjoyed traveling and share a fondness for Nice, France.

“I had a long and successful career almost by chance,” he adds. “I developed a close relationship with many highly motivated students. This was the most gratifying aspect of my entire career.”

And now the Rozelles’ love for WMU will live on through the scholarships they will fund.

“People really thrive where they’re happy, and I loved the college campus. Both of us think that attending a university is a life-altering experience in so many wonderful ways,” he says. “We hope that every student will come away with not only a good education in his or her chosen field but will relish the opportunity to be on a college campus—something I was able to do for 50 years of my life.” ■