SALISBURY, MD – As families throughout the U.S. prepare to celebrate their matriarchs this Mother’s Day, Salisbury University President Charles Wight recently honored his mother by creating a research fund in her memory to benefit SU students.
Established with a $20,000 gift from Wight and his wife, Victoria Rasmussen, the Dorothy Ruxton Chemistry Student Research Fund will provide travel grants and professional development resources to allow SU chemistry students to present their research at conferences and network with established scientists in the field.
“My mother was a staunch advocate of education – not just for her own children, but for all people,” said Wight, who spent much of his career as a professor of chemistry before transitioning into administrative leadership. “I can think of no better way to honor her legacy than to help expand educational opportunities for SU students.”
“This generous gift will provide benefits that could be life-changing for students,” said Dr. Michael Scott, dean of SU’s Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology. “The professionals they meet at conferences and symposia could be a gateway to job interviews, invitations to participate in research teams, graduate school referrals and more.”
In past years, most chemistry students who have attended or presented at national conferences have had to pay their own way — a burden for some, according to Dr. Stephen Habay, SU Chemistry Department chair.
“The Dorothy Ruxton Chemistry Student Research Fund can really eliminate that barrier for students,” he said, adding that may be even more important once academic conferences return as face-to-face events following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wight will have a hand in educating some of the students who will benefit from the fund, as he continues to teach a chemistry class at SU in addition to his duties as President.
Born in New York in 1933, Ruxton spent her early years in England before her family returned to the U.S. in 1940 due to mounting dangers in Europe during World War II. She studied at Skidmore College before earning her master’s degree in psychology from Columbia University.
She raised Wight and his four siblings while also facilitating opportunities for many others. During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, she invited children from New York’s Fresh Air Fund on camping trips with her family and taught cooking and sewing to inner-city teens.
She enjoyed a career as a special needs teacher and administrator at schools in Virginia and Florida before opening her own, Wightwood School, in Orlando, FL, in 1979. In retirement, she volunteered and served on the staff of Orlando’s Adult Literacy League. With that organization, she taught others to read even as her ability to speak became diminished due to multiple sclerosis, with which she had been diagnosed in her 20s.
Despite her busy career and volunteer work, Ruxton remained extremely devoted to her family, including her 36 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. She passed away in 2019.
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at www.salisbury.edu.