As a financial planner, Diane Ryon ’69, M.S. ’70, is keenly aware of the challenges students and their families experience in paying for a college education. To help make dreams of attending Illinois State University more attainable, Ryon is donating $400,000 to establish the Diane Ryon Transfer Student Scholarship Fund—the largest individual outright scholarship in the history of the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST). Scholarships will provide financial assistance for transfer students majoring in programs in CAST’s School of Kinesiology and Recreation.
At her firm, Ryon has consulted with students who are transferring to Illinois State and saw a need for this population in particular to have access to more scholarship opportunities. “A lot of parents send their kids to my office before they transfer. They want to make sure they get started out correctly. Scholarships are one of the first things we talk about.”
Ryon was the first person in her family to graduate from college. Her education would not have been possible without scholarships—she earned 15 scholarships over the course of her education. She also worked three jobs and took classes over the summer, allowing her to graduate with bachelor’s degrees in physical education and French and a master’s degree in health, physical education, and recreation. “I don’t want students to have to work three jobs to get an education. Or have to spread it out over 18 years to get a bachelor’s,” Ryon said.
Since graduating from Illinois State, Ryon has spent her career in Bloomington/Normal. She first taught high school, then gained administrative management experience during her years at the YWCA. In 1982, she founded DJR Tax Service, a firm offering financial planning, investment assistance, and tax preparation. She’s also been teaching adult education classes since 1980.
Todd McLoda, dean of CAST said of the gift: “Diane’s investment in prospective transfer students to the School of Kinesiology and Recreation is a genuine demonstration of paying it forward. Over the years, Diane has demonstrated her support of numerous students through her financial contributions that make it a little easier to pay for college. With this new investment, that support will live on in perpetuity.”
“Illinois State University is a top destination in our state for transfer students, with 34 percent of our student population transferring from other colleges and universities,” said Illinois State University President Larry Dietz. “We are thankful for Ms. Ryon’s generous gift and the role it will play in helping us continue to attract and retain top transfer students.”
Diane Ryon and her husband, Roger, have a long history and passion for supporting scholarships. They’ve donated to several Illinois State scholarships in the past, have helped send more than 40 Bloomington High School students to community college, have provided scholarships to student employees of DJR Tax Service, have supported scholarships for an Indiana high school, and have donated to scholarships at Roger’s college alma mater.
This $400,000 gift for scholarships is part of the University’s $150 million comprehensive campaign, Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State. This is the most ambitious campaign in the University’s 160-year history. Redbirds Rising supports scholarship, leadership, and innovation. More than 40,000 donors have contributed over $105 million in outright gifts and commitments to enhance and make possible the Illinois State experience.
Those interested in supporting the campaign can visit RedbirdsRising.IllinoisState.edu for additional information.