William B. Risman Family Receives Prestigious University Medallion During Kent State’s Spring Commencement Ceremony
Most people who have spent time on Kent State University’s campus in Kent, Ohio, recognize the name Risman. It is connected to the popular Risman Plaza and Risman Drive, but they may not realize that for the Risman family, educating and supporting students has been a family affair for almost 40 years. On May 14, hundreds of students took their graduation photos on Risman Plaza following a commencement ceremony in which the University Medallion was presented to Robert Grant Risman, who accepted the honor on behalf of the Risman family.
“The Risman family’s philanthropy and leadership continues to leave an indelible mark on Kent State,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “The fortunate location of my office allows me to overlook Risman Plaza and see firsthand its place in the life of the university, which perfectly represents the role the Rismans have played at Kent State since the early 1980s. I’m proud to bestow this honor to Rob and the family.”
The family members – Robert (Rob) and Tricia Risman, R. Wayne Risman and the late William (Bill) and Marion Risman – have been champions for students for nearly four decades, beginning with Bill’s service on the Kent State Board of Trustees in 1983. Bill Risman and his son, Rob, both have served on campaign steering committees and the Kent State Foundation Board, a position Rob still holds today. Collectively, Bill and Rob Risman have shared their time and expertise as members of 11 university boards and committees.
The Kent State Board of Trustees voted in March to award the University Medallion to the William B. Risman family for “its extraordinary devotion and support to the advancement of Kent State and all it serves. The Risman family has demonstrated a multigenerational, deep and extraordinary commitment to the welfare of Kent State students and academic programs through their volunteerism and philanthropy.” The University Medallion recognizes alumni and friends who have contributed significantly to the well-being of Kent State.
In 1992, Bill and Marion Risman created the first Medallion Scholarship, and their generosity created the largest number of scholarships ever established by a Kent State donor. Their endowed scholarship funds have awarded more than $1.5 million to 80 unique Kent State students to date. In 2020, Rob Risman, on behalf of the family, established two additional scholarship funds in his parents’ memories to support fashion and music students. The family’s generosity will continue to impact generations to come.
“The wonderful thing about the Medallion Scholarships is they are endowed and will go on forever, and that’s what my dad wanted,” Rob Risman said. “I get letters from recipients of the scholarships every year. I remember their names, and I write back to them. It’s just an incredible feeling to know that from here to eternity, because Kent State will always be here, students are going to have these scholarships, and they’re going to go on and do great things from them.”
In recognition of the continued and impactful support, the family was previously honored with the naming of Risman Plaza and Risman Drive on the Kent Campus. The family is committed to the shared vision that education provides opportunity, and 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the family and university’s first Medallion Scholarship.
“Our hope for the students that receive these scholarships is not only that they succeed in life and become good, productive citizens in society, but also that they always remember there was someone out there who cared enough about them and their education to help them,” Rob Risman said. “And that one day, if they’re able, they’ll pay that forward, and they’ll want to do the same for other students and other generations.”
The Kent State alumni family grew by more than 5,000 new graduates as the university held its spring commencement ceremonies. The accomplishments of the Spring Class of 2022 were recognized with in-person, outdoor commencement ceremonies on May 12-14 and May 20 and a virtual commencement ceremony for all colleges and degrees on May 15.
In total, 5,021 degrees were conferred this spring, consisting of 804 associate degrees, 3,289 bachelor’s degrees, 740 master’s degrees, 172 doctoral degrees and 16 educational specialist degrees.
About Kent State
Kent State University is the highest-ranked public university in northern Ohio on the Top Public Schools and Best National Universities lists by U.S. News & World Report. Kent State also holds the esteemed distinction of being one of only five institutions in Ohio to be recognized as an elite research university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. With eight campuses spanning Northeast Ohio, a College of Podiatric Medicine, a Twinsburg Academic Center and academic sites in major world cities, such as New York City, Geneva and Florence, Kent State is one of Ohio’s leading public universities and a major educational, economic and cultural resource far beyond the Northeast Ohio region it has served since 1910. Kent State is a national leader in award-winning student support services to graduate students. The student body comprises about 35,000 students, including 1,370 international students from nearly 100 countries, and the worldwide alumni family exceeds 264,000. The addition of new learning environments from the sciences to the arts and the development of exciting new academic programs characterize Kent State’s focus on transformational educational experiences. For more information about Kent State, visit www.kent.edu.
The university launched its largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in fall 2021 during Homecoming. With a focus on prioritizing student success, the Forever Brighter campaign aims to raise $350 million to support students, programs and facilities to enhance the future of the university and its students. To learn more about the campaign, visit www.kent.edu/foreverbrighter.
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