Ralph J. Nagel

Ralph J. Nagel, BS67/MArch69

Artist, architect, businessman, designer, and philanthropist—Ralph J. Nagel brings a sense of curiosity and grit, along with a talent for marshaling resources and knowledge, to a wide variety of challenges and opportunities.

These gifts were apparent early in Nagel's career. After earning both a bachelor's and a master's degree in architecture from Washington University, in 1967 and 1969 respectively, Nagel studied urban design and city planning at the University of Pennsylvania. There he won Pennsylvania's prestigious Stewardson Competition and later organized the winning team in an international competition, coordinated by the State of Missouri, centering on Louis Sullivan's historic Wainwright Building complex in St. Louis. (On the basis of these accomplishments, Nagel was later granted the rare privilege of being married in Le Corbusier's Notre Dame de Haut Chapel in Ronchamp, France.)

In 1984, Nagel's keen interest in both built and social environments led him to found the Meridian Retirement Communities, which transformed the experience of aging for more than 15,000 seniors throughout Colorado and Texas. Nagel directed daily operations for the next 25 years, until selling the venture to ING-Australia. He also co-founded (with Johns Hopkins University serving as clinical partner) a network of western-style birthing centers in nine of China's largest cities.

Recognizing the powerful role education played in his own life, Nagel founded ACE, the Alliance for Choice in Education, a K-12 scholarship program that supports more than 30,000 low-income students annually. ACE recently celebrated its 15th year with expansions into Montana and Kansas. A Washington University trustee and longtime member of the Sam Fox School National Council, Nagel also has served as chair of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and as a trustee of Denver University.