Robert Fogler ’91: “I’ve learned much more from my failures than my successes.”

Q: Describe the fraternity as you remember it in your time frame.

A: During my term, the entire Greek system was undergoing massive changes in alcohol policy – from “open parties” to no kegs in the house (I served as ‘A’ during that time), which saved us a lot of money on social events and cleaning costs.  Believe it or not, we still found ways to have fun without paying for strangers to drink our beer and vomit in our house.

Q: What are you fondest memories of being a Delta Chi at Michigan?

A: Mostly roaming the town late at night – in a responsible manner, of course – with my fraternity brothers on the weekends.  Also meal times, whether catered by Thano’s Lamplighter or Mike the Cook.

Q: Do you remember any incidents / funny stories from your DX days?

A: In 1989, we held a game-watching party at the house for the final NCAA Basketball game between UM and Seton Hall.  During the commercial break before Rumeal Robinson sunk the game-winning free throws – the tensest moment of the whole game – a sweet Disneyland commercial came on TV.  From the back of the room, to break the tension, Wayne Nelson (not a sports fan) yelled “Rot in Hell, Goofy!” as if he meant it more than anything else in his life.  Tension broken, Rumeal won the game and we celebrated in the streets.

We also had a tradition that, if anyone refused to join us on a late-night trip to White Castle, we’d bring back the trash and dump it all over their bed.

Q: Did you live in the house?   Who were your roommates?  

Yes. I had no roommates – I lived for two years in the basement in “Hell,” a single room that may not have been fully compliant with the fire code.

Q: Did you have a nickname and if so, how did you get it?

A: Geoff Thompson ’90 was the lead nickname-giver in our time.  I went from “Rob” to “Rib” to “Ribeye” to “Ribeye Fogler” to “Ribeye Steakler” to just “Steak.”  Other classic GT-created nicknames included “Jim Portelli ’90” to “Port-a-Jon” to “Outhouse” to simply, “Out.”

Q: What about your membership in Delta Chi makes you the most proud?

A: Joining the same fraternity as my biological brother, Pete Fogler ’89, who joined DX before me, and then being chosen to be a DX “Big Brother” four times.

Q: Do you stay in touch with any of your Delta Chi brothers?   Who?

A:  I stay in touch with Chris Sujek ’90, with whom I also worked during two summers on a driveway resealing company that we started.  I’ve wanted to be in touch with others, but I don’t do Facebook, which apparently is like living off the grid.

Q: What was your undergraduate degree?   What was the first job you took after college?

A: Undergraduate degrees were Mechanical Engineering and Philosophy.  Then I went straight to law school.

Q: Did you go to graduate school? 

A: I graduated from UM law in ’94.

Q: Who have you worked for and when?

A: I have worked for law firms, both large and small. I have also founded a venture capital fund to invest in East Africa and then built, together with my wife Cathy, a sports TV network that spanned sub-Saharan Africa.  I am now a co-owner of a financial services firm and an energy company, both operating in East Africa.  At the University of Denver, I teach a graduate course on Financial Markets in Africa.

Q: Where have you lived?

A: After Ann Arbor:  Chicago, Kigali (Rwanda), Johannesburg (South Africa) and now Denver.

Q: Tell us about your family and interests.

A: I am married to Cathy (Cathy Obeid, or “Cathy O” to those who remember her from our UM days).  We began dating during our last semester of senior year, but she came by the house many times before then because we were good friends in college. Cathy graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and went on to get an MBA from the University of Chicago.  She now works as a telecommunications/cable TV consultant.

My mother and father have both been employed with UM. My father H. Scott Fogler (who taught DX brother Stan Jelic ’88) is a professor of Chemical Engineering, and my mother has worked as a social worker with the University of Michigan.

Our two teenage boys, Max (15) and Joe (13), are great fun.  We’ve raised them as die-hard UM fans, and they also remain committed to the Detroit Red Wings.

Q: Hobbies you have?

A: Ice hockey, mountain biking and skiing.  Someday I hope to learn to macramé owls.

Q: Volunteer work?

A: Locally, I coach my boys’ hockey teams.  Globally, I’m involved with a variety of initiatives where I do business, in sub-Saharan Africa, including energy, health and education projects.

Q: What would you say are your life’s biggest successes?

A: My wife Cathy and our boys, Max and Joe.

Q: On the contrary, what would you say are your biggest failures or regrets?  What did you learn from it?

A: I’ve been part of a few failed businesses.  Among other things, Cathy and I lost our entire life’s savings in our failed African Sports TV business.  We’d do it again in a heartbeat.  It was the most challenging and most rewarding time of our lives.  I’ve learned much more from my failures than my successes. 

Q: What advice would you give the younger Delta Chi members?

A: Spend some time thinking about how you would like your professional career to go.  I picked up degrees I didn’t end up using, and then spent too many years defaulting into jobs rather than charting my own long-term path.

Q: What do you want people to remember about you 50 years from now?

A: I’ll be 98 years old then, so I hope they’ll remember the beer we just shared.

If any brothers wish to get in touch with Bob, you can do so by calling his cell phone at 303-888-8877 or email him at [email protected]