Robert E. Ross, ’70, 2021 Kent State Advocacy Award Recipient
“The confidence and connections I gained at Kent State helped me immensely. That’s why I think it’s so important to give back to places and organizations that strike a chord with you.”
Robert E. Ross, ’70, has served on the Kent State University Foundation Board since 2003 and leads the Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement Committee. He also recently joined the Council of Leadership Boards. His dedication to the university is exemplified through his efforts to engage and foster connections with fellow board members, alumni and donors, while strengthening their ties to Kent State.
“I cannot think of someone more deserving of this honor,” said former Associate Director of Volunteer Engagement Gina Hiser. “In the short time I have known and worked with Rob, I have been blown away by his passion for Kent State and his willingness to do anything and everything he can to help.”
As an advocate for Kent State, Rob and his wife Susan have hosted alumni events for prospective donors and attended events in Florida and Illinois to encourage others to give back to the university. His devotion to finding new donors and recognizing their generosity not only helps lessen the financial burden on students, but also empowers the donors who support them. Rob understands the impact of these donors, and he sets time aside to express his gratitude for their generosity, sending handwritten thank you notes to Giving Tuesday donors.
“Kent State allowed me to test myself, try new things and pursue them,” said Rob. “The confidence and connections I gained at Kent State helped me immensely. That’s why I think it’s so important to give back to places and organizations that strike a chord with you.”
In his professional life, Rob worked in the financial services industry with regional banking and trust management experience at Northern Trust Company for more than 30 years. He also worked as a managing director for Harris Bank and a director of private asset management for Robert W. Baird & Co. before retiring in 2014.
“When I came to Kent State as a freshman, my major was art. After I finished my first year, I decided to switch my major to marketing,” Rob said. “I really had no finance experience prior to that, but I found that I really enjoyed it. Had it not been for the opportunities at Kent State to grow both academically and socially, I’m not sure if I would have gone down the same path.”
While Rob has dedicated much of his time and expertise to elevating Kent State and supporting its students, he also gives back to his communities in other ways. He has been on the Board of Trustees at DePaul University and Barat College Education Foundation, and he has served as a board member for the Lake Forest Symphony, Cleveland Zoological Society and Illinois St. Andrews Society.
Rob has also been a philanthropic supporter of Kent State University for many years. He has supported several important university funds, including the Last Dollar Scholarship and the recently created Kent State Emergency Grant Fund. He is passionate about supporting Kent State as a whole, but he has a special place in his heart for the Columbiana Campuses.
“I grew up in Alliance, and I have an understanding for what the kids are dealing with in those areas,” Rob said. “Programs like Rising Scholars give students the opportunity to succeed regardless of finances. Education is so important, and I am glad that Kent State gives so many people the chance to pursue what they want in life.”