by News Bureau on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Feb. 18, 2013 — Ludeane F. and the late Leonard R. Ruzicka will receive the 2013 Friend of the University Award later this month from the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.
Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, will present the award at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at the River Campus.
“The Ruzickas are fair-minded philanthropists and devoted patrons of Southeast Missouri State University. Their generosity has had a significant impact across the entire campus. We are deeply appreciative of their commitment to the University,” Dobbins said.
The Friend of the University award, which recognizes those who support and who are closely associated with the mission, purposes, plans and programs of the University, is the highest honor bestowed by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. When the Foundation Board established the award, it also established the criteria for the Friend of the University. The Friend of the University must have the respect of the community and the University, and must have acted to confirm their interest and involvement with the University.
Mr. Ruzicka was a lifelong St. Louis resident who established and successfully operated businesses in several industries – including large format printing, beverage distribution and dental arts – in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Missouri. In addition, he served as a campaign fundraiser for U.S. Senator Stuart Symington from Missouri, Missouri Gov. Warren Hearnes and President John Kennedy. Although he did not attend college himself, Mr. Ruzicka was extremely supportive of higher education, particularly Southeast Missouri State University and Marquette University in Milwaukee where he served many years on an admissions advisory board.
Ludeane “Lu” Jeanette Fowler Ruzicka of Savannah, Ga., formerly of Chesterfield, Mo., is a retired teacher and benefactor. She is a charter member of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation’s Copper Dome Society and a member of the President’s Council, as was her late husband, Leonard R. Ruzicka Sr.
Mrs. Ruzicka has been a longtime friend and benefactor of the University. She recently made a gift of more than $100,000 to endow the Leonard R. Ruzicka Sr. Program in Entrepreneurial Excellence through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. Mrs. Ruzicka established the endowed program in memory of her late husband to honor his passion, vision and purpose.
Earnings from this endowment will support co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and special programming organized through the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. These activities are designed to promote and encourage the development of an entrepreneurial mind-set among students and may include a speaker series, support for student competitions or other similar endeavors.
Additionally, she and her family donated a portion of the land on which the River Campus now stands. Gifts, made possible through the generosity of the Ruzickas, completed the necessary property acquisitions that made the River Campus a reality. Mrs. Ruzicka also provided funding for the Interlude Fountain, at the entrance to the River Campus, in memory of her parents.
In 2007, she made a gift to establish the Ludeanne Fowler Ruzicka Scholarship, which is awarded to students pursuing a degree in performing arts or music through the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts. Mrs. Ruzicka established the scholarship as a lasting commitment to commemorate her family’s contribution to Southeast Missouri State University.
Mrs. Ruzicka was awarded the University’s Distinguished Service Award in October 2009. Distinguished Service Awards are presented at Homecoming to individuals who have made lasting contributions to their communities and to the University.
A native of Cape Girardeau, Mrs. Ruzicka spent her formative years living with her family on Lorimier Street and on Morgan Oak Street near the current location of Southeast’s River Campus. Mrs. Ruzicka, whose father graduated from Southeast in 1932, attended Lorimier Grade School, now Cape Girardeau City Hall, and College High School, now the Rosemary Berkel Crisp Hall of Nursing at Southeast.
She went on to attend the then Southeast Missouri State College, majoring in English and speech pathology, graduating in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. During her years at Southeast, she was active in Black Mask, Collegiate Players, the Debate Team, Sorosis Society, Golden Eagles and Centenary Methodist Youth, and was a reporter for the campus newspaper.
She attended graduate school at Saint Louis University and, over the years, taught in various capacities as a speech correctionist; lip reading, speech and audiology instructor; and substitute teacher in several public and parochial school districts.