Real estate executive Robert Merrick’s support of the University of New Orleans spans nearly three decades. His most recent example of philanthropy may be his most visible. The University held a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the Robert W. Merrick/ Latter & Blum Patio. The refurbished water feature and adjacent grounds represent a major upgrade to the area of campus between the Amphitheatre and the Earl K. Long Library and have become a favorite place for students to study and relax.
“This beautiful patio area has transformed this part of campus,” said President John Nicklow. “Hands down, it’s the most soothing place on campus. And in my opinion, it has enhanced Privateer Pride.”
Over the years, Merrick, chairman and CEO of Latter & Blum, Inc., and his company are responsible for more than $2 million in charitable donations to the city’s only public research university.
“I don’t view my support of the University of New Orleans as donations,” Merrick said. “I see it as an investment in New Orleans.”
A newly installed plaque along one of the most well-traveled walkways on campus declares the University’s gratitude to Merrick and Latter & Blum for their generosity. President Nicklow presented Merrick with a smaller version of the plaque during the ceremony. The event was attended by alumni and friends of the University, administrators, faculty leaders and higher education officials including University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson and University of Louisiana System board member Tom Kitchen, who is a graduate of UNO.
“For nearly 60 years, UNO has provided a pathway to a better life for tens of thousands of students,” Nicklow said. “Those educational outcomes lead to genuine economic development and an improved quality of life for all citizens of this region. I know that Bob Merrick believes deeply in our mission. And it is my belief that no other person has demonstrated a greater commitment to the University of New Orleans than Bob Merrick.”
Merrick’s support for UNO goes back many years although he is not a graduate of the institution. He has chaired the UNO business school advisory board and the UNO Foundation board of directors. He endowed the Merrick chair in real estate and helped create the Max Derbes II Professorship in real estate. He has given substantially to support student scholarships and graduate programs in coastal sciences and engineering. In addition, Latter & Blum, Inc., has been the title sponsor for the popular annual Dr. Ivan Miestchovich Economic Outlook and Real Estate Forecast Seminar. In 2014, UNO recognized Merrick’s contributions by awarding him an honorary doctorate.