As one of the architects of Amherst’s exemplary financial aid system, Donald McMillan “Skip” Routh has devoted his professional career to developing and maintaining the principles of need-based financial aid in American colleges. Under this system, those who are intellectually qualified can attend college without regard to economic circumstances.
A 1958 graduate of Amherst, with a master’s in teaching from Johns Hopkins, Routh served as Amherst’s dean of financial aid from 1964 to 1981. He then served in the same capacity at Yale, retiring in 2000. A thoughtful and quietly influential presence in his professional life and in civic life, he served on the town’s Board of Selectmen and chaired Amherst’s Landlord Tenant Relations Committee; he also has been a member of several volunteer boards in his home state of Connecticut. His service to Amherst extended beyond his job: as an alumni volunteer, he served for twenty years as a class agent.
Nationally, Routh has been chairman of the College Scholarship Service Council and chair of the Policy Committee of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education. In both groups, he worked to create and maintain an ethos in which need-based financial aid could be paired with need-blind admission.
An advocate for students, he has a depth of vision that has allowed him to see that what might, in the short haul, be best for some might not, in the long haul, be best for most. He has been deeply, but not uncritically, loyal to the schools he has served, often reminding those institutions of their responsibility to the larger society. Skip Routh has been an educator, in the surest sense of the word.