A vision unfolds

Newly named George Mylander Hall honors longtime supporter

A Vision Unfolds

By Bonnie Blankinship

The establishment of BGSU Firelands College 1968 brought important educational opportunities to the Huron community. George Mylander, visionary supporter of the college, has nurtured those opportunities from the beginning. Today the product of his vision is about to expand yet again to meet the growing need for graduates in the sciences, health care and allied professions.

On Sept. 30, President Mary Ellen Mazey, Firelands Dean Bill Balzer and others gathered to break ground for an addition to the North Building and commemorate the renaming of the West Building as George Mylander Hall in honor of his educational leadership and generosity.

“George Mylander Hall stands as an inspiration to us and a reminder that a dedicated individual can make an enormous difference in the lives of students and the community”His $1 million leadership gift helps launch a capital campaign to complete the extensive renovations and addition that will enable BGSU Firelands to significantly expand its offerings in key areas. The campaign also represents Mylander’s two lifelong passions: education and health care.

At the ceremony, Mylander gave a passionate recital of the alma mater, leaving many audience members teary-eyed, which Mylander later said showed “how much BGSU means to all of us.”

“It was a great day for me” added, “but more importantly a great day for BGSU Firelands. We have accomplished much at the campus over the last 50 years, and I’m sure there is even better to come in the future.

“The increased need for quality health care in our community and nationally will ensure success for the program which will be taught in the Allied Health and Sciences buildings and will ensure success for the students who graduate, too.”  

“George Mylander Hall stands as an inspiration to us and a reminder that a dedicated individual can make an enormous difference in the lives of students and the community,” Mazey said. “We admire Dr. Mylander for his vision, his commitment and his generosity, which have benefited so many and will continue to do so for years to come.”

The Allied Health and Sciences Project will include a 12,700 square foot, two-story addition to the current North Building, which will provide critically needed laboratory spaces in the natural and physical sciences. It will expand upper division course offerings that support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and act as a catalyst for new bachelor’s degree programs.

The project will also include 35,000 square feet of renovations to the North Building and George Mylander Hall. The renovations are essential for expanding health-related offerings for students and increasing the number of well-trained health care professionals in the community.

The newly remodeled, LEED-certified facilities will accommodate high-demand degree programs in nursing and allied health careers including radiologic technology, respiratory care, diagnostic medical sonography, and health information management technology, as well as supporting critical courses in the basic sciences.

“It’s rare that one individual has such a dramatic effect on the outcome of an institution, but I can say without hesitation that Dr. George Mylander has been one of the most instrumental figures in the success of BGSU Firelands throughout its history,” said Balzer at the dedication.

“As I reflect on George Mylander’s contributions to BGSU Firelands, I am reminded of the classic holiday movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and the iconic George Bailey. In the movie, of course, George Bailey is given a glimpse of the dismal state of affairs which could have overwhelmed his hometown had it not been for his contributions and influence.

“Similarly, I think of how the landscape of our college would be vastly different without our own iconic ‘George,’ George Mylander.”

Run backwards, a film of Mylander’s influence on the development of the campus would stop first at 2003 and the opening of the signature building on campus, the 30,000-square-foot Cedar Point Center, to which he contributed a leadership gift. It would continue with his 15 years as a member of the BGSU Foundation Board of Directors, where he served two years as chair, and all the way back to 1968, when Mylander, acting with a group of other civic leaders on the conviction that the region needed a higher education institution, became a driving force in the establishment of the regional campus of BGSU, his alma mater. Mylander earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1958 and a master's degree in education in 1970 from BGSU. In 2003 the University awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in public service.

Recognizing that simply having a college nearby is not always enough, Mylander has also contributed generously to scholarships that enable students to attend. The George L. Mylander Scholarship has allowed 23 students to pursue their dreams of a college education, and his support of the BGSU Alumni Laureate Scholarship provides exceptional students with full scholarships as well as caring mentors and leadership opportunities. The Mylander Foundation, which he established in 1987, has made 109 awards for a total of supporting 133 students at BGSU Firelands.

Mylander is not committed only to higher education. He also served the Sandusky City Schools for 27 years as a teacher and administrator. He has worked tirelessly to improve health care facilities and service in Sandusky and was honored in 2006 by the Ohio Hospital Association with its highest recognition.

A civic leader, he was for 16 years as a Sandusky City Commissioner, including six years as ex-officio mayor, helping create a better place to live for the community. Under his leadership, two business parks were started and progress was made in the improvement of the Sandusky Bay shoreline.

One might think such a strong personality would be hard-driving and hard-edged, and yet, the Sandusky Register editor described him as “Always a leader. Always kind. Always sincere.” Not words one often hears about elected officials, especially not from newspaper editors.

“In so many ways, over nearly 50 years, Dr. George Mylander has created a wonderful life for BGSU Firelands, its students, and its community,” Balzer said.