Ridenour Scholarship to support Northwest Ohio students

The Ridenour family

The Ridenour Family (from left): Trent, Karen (Miami ’82), Mark (Miami '82), Megan (Miami ’14), Stephanie (Miami ’09), Kevin Kepelsky (Stephanie’s fiancé), Lauren (Miami ’11) and Andrew Shuneson (Miami ’11) (Lauren’s fiancé).

written by Vince Frieden, development communications

For Mark (Miami '82) and Karen Shurmer Ridenour (Miami '82), a Miami Merger that has sent three daughters on to their alma mater, the Miami Experience is something not only to be treasured but also to be shared.

The Sylvania, Ohio, residents recently lent early momentum to the Miami Promise Scholarship Campaign by endowing the Ridenour Family Scholarship in support of students from Northwest Ohio who demonstrate financial need. According to Karen, the decision to create the scholarship was both practical and based on a sense of community pride.

“Putting four children through college has certainly made us aware of the cost of education,” Karen said. “We are also proud of Northwest Ohio and know there are many qualified young people who struggle to afford the excellent campus experience and education that Miami offers.”

The Ridenours’ scholarship received an additional boost through Miami’s Match the Promise endowment program—an eight-year university matching program that allows new scholarships at $50,000 and above to begin being awarded immediately and which permits the endowment’s principle to grow unimpeded over its first four years.

“All of us who have had the good fortune of attending Miami and leading successful careers should seriously consider giving back to help make those opportunities possible for those who follow in our footsteps,” Mark said. “The Miami Promise Scholarship Campaign and Match the Promise initiatives are strong statements of Miami’s commitment to supporting student scholarships.”

Mark and Karen have come to know Miami from a variety of angles—as students and alumni, parents, and now from Mark’s perspective as a member of Miami’s Board of Trustees. They both earned finance degrees while at Miami, and their first date was to Miami’s 1982 Charter Day Ball. After graduation, they went in different directions, with Mark working in Cleveland and Karen in Chicago, before getting married in 1983 and “meeting halfway” in Toledo.

As parents to Miami graduates Stephanie ’09, Lauren ’11 and Megan ’14, their connection to the university only grew.

“It was a treat to see our daughters go to Miami, grow into young ladies and find good careers in their fields of study,” Mark said. “Obviously things changed in Oxford between the time when we attended and when our daughters attended, but it remains that quintessential college campus on a hill with great educational opportunities and great people at all levels.”

Mark is executive vice president and CFO of Heidtman Steel Products. Both he and Karen, who began her career with Continental Illinois Bank, Ohio Citizens Bank and Ameritrust before raising the couple’s four children, are extremely active in serving schools, hospitals and non-profit organizations throughout Northwest Ohio.

The Ridenour Family Scholarship is a tribute to Mark, Karen and their daughters as well as nine other family members with Miami ties. It also celebrates the larger Miami Greek families that have forged life-long friendships and enhanced the college experiences of Mark (Phi Kappa Tau), Karen (Alpha Phi), Stephanie (Alpha Delta Pi), Lauren (Alpha Omicron Pi) and Megan (Alpha Omicron Pi).

Through creating the scholarship, Mark and Karen hope to instill a philanthropic mindset and sense of responsibility in their children.

“We created a family scholarship because we are a family as Miami is a ‘family,’” Karen said. “We have tried to teach our children the importance of being charitable and helping where they can. Our hope is that when they are in a position to give back that they will also contribute to the scholarship and open even more doors of opportunity to students who want to study hard and open themselves to new possibilities.”