YSU Grad Remembers His Grandparents with $1M Donation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A $1 million donation to Youngstown State University’s “We See Tomorrow” campaign by Robert W. Reeder III, a 1981 YSU graduate, will create two new professorships in English and history in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

The gift, announced today, is in honor of Reeder’s grandparents who were both natives of the Mahoning Valley.

Reeder, who earned a law degree from Ohio State University in 1984, is a partner in the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell in New York, where he is co-head of the firm’s Corporate Group. S&C comprises nearly 900 lawyers who serve clients across the world through a network of 13 offices. Reeder and his wife, Lorraine, live in Bedford, New York.

The gift establishes the Robert W. Reeder I Memorial Endowed Professorship in History and the Grace Ruth Memorial Endowed Professorship in English. The professorships will be filled by nationally-recognized English and history scholars who will teach undergraduate and graduate students and maintain active agendas in research and scholarship. Preference for the history professorship will be given to individuals who have written on transportation in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, while preference for the English professorship will be given to women scholars, YSU said.

“Bringing such talented academicians to YSU certainly raises the university’s academic reputation and allows students and the community to interact with and learn from respected, accomplished scholars,” said Kristine Blair, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Grace Ruth was a life-long resident of Youngstown whose dream to attend college and ultimately become a lawyer was cut short by her father’s untimely death. She was an avid reader, a consummate writer and graduated from high school in just two years. She tutored underprivileged students, taught Sunday School at John Knox Presbyterian Church, was the president of the PTA at Garfield and Williamson elementary schools and was a Cub Scout den mother. She supported civil rights long before the protests of the 1960’s, and she gave generously to charities aimed that help the poor, including the Rescue Mission, Volunteers of America and the Red Cross.

Robert W. Reeder I also was a life-long resident of Youngstown and, later in life lived in Greenford. To support his family, Reeder went to work in the steel mills as a teenager and never had the opportunity to pursue his dream – to go to college and law school. He loved reading, history in particular. In his retirement, he was president of the Columbiana Historical Society, a zoning commissioner for Green Township, and spent much of his time traveling Ohio with his wife, visiting historical sites. He was particularly interested in transportation, from the Erie Canal to steam engines.

Consistent with his interest of steam engines, he could be found every fall at the Canfield Fair participating as a member of the threshing crew at the steam engine exhibit. He also had a love for covered bridges and spent time in the Northeast going from one covered bridge to the next; a restored Vermont covered bridge was named for him in Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.

The $100 million “We See Tomorrow” fundraising campaign is the largest in YSU history. The campaign is spearheaded by the YSU Foundation, the official fundraising arm of YSU.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.