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Ringling College Receives Record-Breaking $15 Million Donation

SARASOTA, FL – Ringling College of Art and Design recently announced it has received its largest single gift and the first eight-figure gift since the institution was founded in 1931. The generous donation of $15 million was given by Board of Trustees’ member Dr. Joel Morganroth and his wife Dr. Gail Morrison Morganroth.

Drs. Morganroth, both visionaries and philanthropists, were looking to invest in a non-profit organization in the community that reflects and perpetuates their core values: strong leadership, forward thinking, fiscal responsibility, and a sense of morality and ethics. But it wouldn’t be just any organization—education is of paramount importance to the couple. They found this all at Ringling College.

According to Dr. Joel Morganroth, “Right now, big and exciting things are happening at Ringling College. To name a few, the college recently announced that it has begun enrolling students in the world’s first major in virtual reality leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In addition, the college has one of the world’s best animation programs and the college was ranked as one of the six best art and design colleges this past summer. But these things don’t happen on their own, it takes support to bring ideas to fruition and to turn vision into reality. We are so proud to be part of and look forward to supporting an organization on such a fast rise. We hope our gift will inspire others to join us in investing in the future of art and design, technology, education, and the Sarasota region.”

And an investment it is. This generous donation will be put toward supporting initiatives across the institution including funding for endowment, capital, scholarships, current and future programming, the Sarasota Museum of Art, and the creation of the first endowed department head at Ringling College in its newest major, Virtual Reality Development.

“The generosity of our Board of Trustees, and of Drs. Morganroth in particular, cannot be overstated,” says Stacey Corley, vice president for Advancement at Ringling College. “Gifts of this magnitude are transformational and critical to the future of any organization, especially for those who strive to be leaders in their fields. We are honored that one of our Trustees, a member of the Ringling College family, was inspired enough to understand the importance of what we are doing here and invest in our future in this way.”

According to Dr. Joel Morganroth, “Much of the inspiration for the gift came from Dr. Larry R. Thompson, soon to be entering his 20th year as president of the college. Over the last almost two decades, President Thompson has transformed the then-Ringling School of Art into the world-renowned Ringling College of Art and Design that it is today. Under his leadership, the college has expanded and progressed along multiple axes, including curriculum, enrollment, and capital building projects.”

Since he became President of Ringling College in 1999, Dr. Thompson has introduced nine new majors. The college is enjoying record enrollment numbers with its largest student body in its history at 1460. And this year the campus will open its two newest buildings—the post production building of The Ringling College Studio Labs and a new residence hall for the growing student body—the ninth and tenth buildings to open since Dr. Thompson took the helm.

“Art and design is about progress, creativity, change, and growth, and Ringling College has been dedicated to educating and inspiring artists and designers from around the globe for over 86 years,” Dr. Thompson says. “But that mission cannot be accomplished without the support and generosity of our friends. We are honored and grateful for this momentous gift—a gift that will bolster every corner of our institution.”

 “We wanted to make a significant contribution to something that we believe in,” remarks Dr. Joel Morganroth. “After only three years as a Ringling College Trustee, I found that the organization we were looking for was right here. The college not only shares our central core beliefs, but they never settle or stop. We continue to want to be a part of an institution that is always looking to the future, to stay relevant and affect change. So it made sense to us to make a major investment in Ringling College.”

Dr. Thompson adds, “We are a college on the move, and, as we open new majors, celebrate new facilities, and create more community partnerships, we will continue to look ahead and be at the forefront of art and design higher education. Right now we are among the very top of art and design colleges but we are not satisfied with being among the top. Our vision is for Ringling College to be THE preeminent art and design college in the world and we are on a very fast track to get there.  Indeed, we are so close we can almost touch it. This gift by Joel and Gail brings us closer and closer to that goal.”

About Drs. Joel and Gail Morganroth
Joel is an academic cardiologist with expertise in clinical research and also a founder of ERT, a global company that improves the process of insuring the safety of new medical therapies. Gail is an academic nephrologist who has led the educational efforts as vice dean for Education for over 20 years at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. They have lived in Sarasota since 2009.

About Ringling College of Art and Design
Since 1931, Ringling College of Art and Design has cultivated the creative spirit in students from around the globe. The private, not-for-profit fully accredited college offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in eleven disciplines and the Bachelor of Arts in two. The College's rigorous curriculum employs the studio model of teaching and immediately engages students through a comprehensive, first-year program that is both specific to the major of study and focused on the liberal arts. The Ringling College teaching model ultimately shapes students into highly employable and globally aware artists and designers.

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