Philanthropic Gifts Prompt Kent State Ashtabula Main Hall to Be Renamed After Longtime Dean Susan J. Stocker, Ph.D.
ASHTABULA, OHIO (Sept. 22, 2023) -- In recognition of the generosity and commitment of James E. Mayer Jr. and Glen and Nancy Warner for their gifts toward a $500,000 endowment, the Kent State University Board of Trustees approved on Sept. 20 naming the main building at Kent State University at Ashtabula as Susan J. Stocker Hall.
The pair of philanthropic gifts supporting Kent State Ashtabula honor the service and contributions of a trailblazer and longest-tenured campus leader, former Dean and Chief Administrative Officer Susan J. Stocker, Ph.D., while helping sustain the campus’ mission through the creation of an endowment, the Susan J. Stocker Ashtabula Campus Development Fund. The endowment will support student success initiatives, campus programming, equipment and technology needs, facility renovations or any expense related to the betterment of the campus and the students it serves.
“I have spent more than 23 years in Ashtabula County,” Mayer Jr. said. “In that time, Dean Susan Stocker’s presence has been unmatched. She has led the transformation of our Kent State Ashtabula campus and Growth Partnership, as well as her involvement in the Chamber of Commerce, healthcare issues and the American Heart Association. Honoring the legacy of her hard work is exciting.”
The first building constructed on Kent State Ashtabula’s current site, Main Hall, is the heart of the campus at 3300 Lake Road West. The building houses the campus’ administrative offices, student support services, social and study spaces, dining facilities and community meeting rooms.
“Kent State Ashtabula has played such an important part in my life,” Stocker said. “I’m grateful for the education I received here. I am proud to be an emeritus member of the faculty. It was my great honor to serve for 21 years as the dean. To now have Main Hall bear my name is a tremendous honor.”
Community leaders and long-time campus benefactors, Mayer, Jr., and the Warners, not only honor Stocker’s commitment to the students and the local community, but they also hope to inspire other community partners, alumni and friends to support the Susan J. Stocker Ashtabula Campus Development Fund as a way to continue to improve the local community. The Molded Fiber Glass Foundation, another dedicated supporter of Kent State Ashtabula, has just announced a gift to support the endowment as well.
“These actions – renaming Stocker Hall and forming a campus development fund – are a fitting way to honor the impact that Dean Susan Stocker has had at Kent State Ashtabula,” said Interim Dean and Chief Administrative Officer R. William Ayres IV, Ph.D. “For more than two decades, Dean Stocker’s leadership grew and shaped a campus that bears her imprint. At the heart of that campus is a love for the people and communities of Ashtabula County -– a love that Sue herself lived out every day of her career.”
Ayres continued, “The Susan J. Stocker Ashtabula Campus Development Fund will provide crucial support for the Ashtabula Campus for generations to come. Through this fund, the campus will be able to invest in new programs and projects to support the changing needs of the students and communities we serve. The strategic flexibility offered by this endowment will enable the campus to continue to grow and evolve to meet new challenges and better serve the communities around us.”
Stocker retired from Kent State Ashtabula in 2022 after more than 30 years of service to the university. She led the campus as dean and chief administrative officer for 21 years and was the longest -serving dean in Kent State’s history at the time of her retirement. In addition to her career at the Ashtabula Campus, she served in several leadership roles at Kent State, including interim dean of the College of Nursing from 2013 to 2014, interim dean of Kent State University at Geauga from 2016 to 2018, and two periods as interim dean of the Regional College, now known as the College of Applied and Technical Studies, from 2015 to 2016 and again from 2019 to 2021.
During her tenure, Stocker shepherded the construction of Robert S. Morrison Hall, the campus’ state-of-the-art health and science building, along with several major renovations and improvements to the campus infrastructure. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kent State Ashtabula Roger T. Beitler Distinguished Former Student Award, the Kent State Ashtabula Distinguished Nursing Alumni Award and was the first member of the Ashtabula faculty to win the prestigious Kent State Distinguished Teaching Award.
A pillar of the community and a statewide leader in the nursing profession, Stocker has also received the LEADERship Ashtabula County Excellence in Leadership Award, the United Way of Ashtabula County Community Builder Award, the Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County President’s Award and the Case Western Reserve University Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award.
“This campus is a special place,” Stocker said. “We have stayed true to our mission by focusing on the students. I still run into former students who have gone on to have very successful careers. Many of our graduates would not have been able to obtain a college degree if it was not for this campus. Over the years, we created a caring, family-like culture. I am proud to have been a part of that.”
A formal dedication ceremony and naming unveiling will be held on campus at a later date.
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