The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the UB School of Management

Stepping Up...Celebrating those who make a difference to the School of Management

Retired Coca Cola CEO establishes UB Scholarship

John Alm (left) gives Dean Arjang Assad a tour of his Wyoming ranch.

John Alm jokes that he may have flunked out of UB more than any graduate in history. He even claims that, at one point, he had a "negative .37 grade point average." But the truth is that after a couple of false starts and a four-year stint in the Air Force during the Vietnam era, this son of a spot welder and grandson of a coal miner got serious about school.

He donned his Air Force blues and, hat in hand, asked the admissions department for another chance, which he was given. He received his bachelor's degree in 1973 and went on to an illustrious career with Coca Cola Enterprises.

When he retired in 2005, it was as president and CEO of the world's largest marketer, distributor and producer of nonalcoholic beverages.

This year, Alm established a University at Buffalo scholarship for graduating seniors at Maple Grove High School in Bemus Point.

The Cheryl D. Van Marter-Alm Scholarship is named in honor of Alm's late wife. Both are graduates of Maple Grove High.

His gift of $150,000 will provide up to four students with full tuition beginning in fall 2013.

"Attending UB gave me exposure to people who lived very differently from me and opened doors to a new world," Alm says. "I hope this scholarship will provide a similar opportunity to Maple Grove students."

"Attending UB gave me exposure to people who lived very differently from me and opened doors to a new world. I hope this scholarship will provide a similar opportunity to Maple Grove students."

John Alm

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be graduates of Maple Grove High School and be accepted into UB. They also must demonstrate financial need and plan to live on campus. Recipients may attend any of the UB schools, but preference will be given to those interested in the School of Management.

"This is an exceptional opportunity for Maple Grove students and a coveted scholarship for students to strive for," says Edward Turkasz Jr., Maple Grove's principal.

"John has a passion for providing educational opportunities to underserved youth," says Arjang Assad, dean of the School of Management. "This scholarship is an apt demonstration of this."

Alm received the Distinguished Alumni award in 2011 from the UB Alumni Association. He owns and operates a large ranch in Hyattville, Wyoming, that includes Camp Paintrock, a summer camp for inner-city youth from Los Angeles.

- Jacqueline Molik Ghosen

Scholarship means the world to WNY student

Photo: Tom Wolf

Being selected the first recipient of the Cheryl D. Van Marter-Alm Scholarship wasn't something 18-year-old Bemus Point native Hannah Griffith took lightly.

Neither did her parents.

"You have no idea what this means to my family," she said upon receiving the phone call announcing her selection.

"They're in the kitchen crying right now," she whispered.

Enrolled in UB's social sciences program as well as the Honors College, Griffith refers to her future career plans as "life goals."

"I want to help people and travel a lot, possibly a few years in the Peace Corps or something similar just out of college. I also am considering working for the International Red Cross or World Vision, but I have a while before I need to make a final decision."

Griffith participated in her first international mission trip this past spring with her church, an "incredible" experience that cemented her commitment to humanitarian work. She is the youngest of three siblings spaced two years apart, and all three are college students.

"Without this scholarship, I wouldn't have been able to go to UB. I'll never forget my parents' reaction when they found out I got the scholarship.the relief on their faces," Griffith says.

The decision to select Griffith for the Cheryl D. Van Marter-Alm Scholarship was a unanimous one for the scholarship panel members, who noted that her outlook and vision are a direct parallel to John Alm's.

"With so many outstanding candidates, it was a challenge making the selection," says Loreta Vukadin, associate director of undergraduate programs in the School of Management.

"However, we felt Hannah truly embodied the spirit of the scholarship."


- Beth Ranney