MURRAY, KY (KFVS) - The theme of this year's Murray State University's Homecoming is "Once Upon a Homecoming" which certainly fits the story of how grand marshals David and Ashley Dill met.
When David Dill was a junior at Murray State, he developed a crush on Ashley Hall, but he didn't ask her out on a date until several months later.
"I got up the nerve to ask her out on her last day on campus," David said. "The only money I had was enough to buy a movie ticket, popcorn and a Coke."
David's gesture was enough to win Ashley over. They went on their first date in 1989, and they were married in August of 1991.
"I always tell everybody that he about waited too long," Ashley said. "But we had our first date on graduation night and, as they say, the rest is history."
Both David and Ashley were highly involved at Murray State. David was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and competed on the Murray State golf team. Ashley was active in the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. Once married, the couple relocated to Nashville, Tennessee where David pursued a career in accounting and Ashley in interior design.
When their first child was born in 1996, the couple decided that Ashley would stay home with the child. Also in 1996, David got offered an opportunity to work in healthcare with Renal Care Group. Eventually, David assumed the role of chief financial officer.
In 2007, David then joined Life Point Hospital Group to serve as the organization's executive vice president and chief financial officer before being named president and chief operating officer in 2009. David still fills these roles today. David credits much of his success to Murray State. He believes the university prepared him to take advantage of the many opportunities afforded to him. Thus, since graduating from the University, David and Ashley have vowed to give back to the school that provided them with so much.
"It's the place I met the love of my life, a place where I met the mother of my children and it's a place that prepared me professionally and personally to accomplish a lot of dreams," David said. "In exchange for that we made a commitment that we wanted to give back financially to what we've been involved in. And, whether it's church, other charities or the University, we also require ourselves to give back our time. It's easy to write a check; it's harder to get involved. So if we're going to get involved financially, we have to get involved with our time."
The Dills did just that when they joined Murray State's Hold Thy Banner High capital campaign, an initiative that ran from 2005 to 2012 and raised nearly $72 million for scholarship endowments for students at Murray State.
"We jumped in with both feet," David said. "We were a part of a large fundraising effort. We got involved that way and then, through that process, [we were asked] to join the Board of the Murray State Foundation."
David has also been honored as a recipient of the Alumni Association's most prestigious awards which include the Golden Horseshoe Award in 2003 and Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015. Both awards celebrate alumni achievements and the impact they have made on their communities and alma mater.
"[Murray State] was such a great experience," Ashley said. "Not only did we feel like we got a great education — one that let us work in professions we were prepared for — but it was also a great experience for us. It was easy to step in and say, 'absolutely, we need to give back to a place that provided so much for us.'"
The Dills have become strong advocates for all that Murray State has to offer to students and alumni. In fact, they believe that when you open yourself to all of the opportunities the University and professors have provided, growth will happen both professionally and personally.
"It's a great place to grow, be nurtured and connect with professors and other students," David said. "If you are willing to invest, you will be prepared to do whatever you want to do. And, you will stack up very well with anybody else from any other university around the country."
Tim Miller, professor emeritus in the department of accounting at Murray State and a grand marshal at Homecoming 2016, said he could not have been happier with this year's grand marshal choice.
"David excelled as a student and now, as an alumnus, has shared his expertise and financial wealth with students and faculty in the department of accounting as well as by providing leadership to the University as a trustee on the MSU Foundation Board," Miller said. "It is alumni like David Dill that have made the teaching profession so rewarding as a career."
The Murray State Alumni Association invites you to join the Dills in celebrating Homecoming Oct. 26–28 on the campus of Murray State. The Homecoming Parade featuring the Dills will take place Saturday, Oct. 28, at 9:30 a.m. For more information on the activities surrounding Homecoming weekend, please visit murraystate.edu/homecoming or call the Office of Alumni Relations at 270-809-5600.