Ludeane “Lu” Ruzicka of Savannah, Ga., recently made a gift of more than $100,000 to establish the program in memory of her late husband, Leonard R. Ruzicka, Sr. 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.
“Mr. Ruzicka was a fair-minded philanthropist, devoted volunteer, creative thinker and supporter of initiative,” commented Bill Holland, Southeast vice president of University Advancement and executive director of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. “During his lifetime (1920-2004), Mr. Ruzicka mentored and provided opportunities for the business growth of many. It is fitting that his entrepreneurial spirit be remembered with this perpetual legacy to encourage and support young men and women who embody the promise of innovation.”
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.
Mrs. Ruzicka 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. Mrs. Ruzicka, a Cape Girardeau native, has been a long-time friend and benefactor of the University. Gifts, made possible through the generosity of she and her husband, completed the necessary property acquisitions that made the River Campus a reality. Mrs. Ruzicka also provided funding for the Interlude Fountain in memory of her parents, and she was a recipient of the University’s Distinguished Service Award in 2009.
She attended Southeast Missouri State College, majoring in English and speech pathology, graduating in 1951 with a bachelor of science in education degree. 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 St. 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.