The Spirit of Washington University newsletter recently published this story.
Russ Flicker, BSBA 1994, is dedicated to staying engaged with his alma mater. Among other volunteer positions, he is president of the Olin Business School Alumni Board. Over the years, he has followed the university’s decade-long effort to attract and enroll the most talented students, regardless of their background.
When he learned about Gateway to Success, WashU’s $1 billion investment in financial aid that enabled the adoption of a need-blind undergraduate admissions policy in late 2021, he was inspired.
“It was such a fabulous announcement,” Flicker says. “It was the right thing for the university to do, and it made me so proud to be a WashU alum. My wife, Lisa, and I had been making gifts for annual scholarships at Olin for many years, but after the announcement, we wanted to participate in a bigger way.”
‘Better career outcomes’
The Flickers committed to increasing their giving for undergraduate scholarships through Make Way: Our Student Initiative, a fundraising effort the university launched in late 2022. They also shifted their support to universitywide scholarships, which allow WashU to award the funding to students in any school. This type of scholarship gift—a Make Way priority—aligns with the interdisciplinary pursuits of the university’s undergraduates, 80% of whom complete double majors or minors.
“I’ve become convinced that in the interconnected world we live in, pooling scholarship resources makes sense,” Flicker says. “We want students to be fulfilled and successful. So many 18-year-olds shift direction by the time they are 20 or 21. The WashU approach of encouraging undergraduates to take courses across different spectrums will lead to better career outcomes and happier alumni.”
“My scholarship made a big difference. Someone changed my life, and if I can help the next generation in the same way, I am thrilled to do it.”Russ Flicker
Flicker’s insights stem from his interactions with today’s students. AWH Partners, the New York-based real estate investment firm he co-founded, has hosted WashU interns. In addition, Flicker has been a mentor, competition judge and mock interviewer for Olin students.
Closer to home, his daughter, Molly, is a member of Olin’s Class of 2026.
Flicker says WashU students are exceptionally bright, driven and sophisticated, which motivates him to help them professionally and financially. A scholarship recipient himself, he is determined to pay it forward.
“I don’t kid myself about how lucky I’ve been,” he says. “My scholarship made a big difference. Someone changed my life, and if I can help the next generation in the same way, I am thrilled to do it.”
Photo: Longtime scholarship sponsors Lisa and Russ Flicker recently increased their support through a pledge for Make Way: Our Student Initiative.