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Arts & Sciences Magazine Julie Keith December 05, 2018

Honoring literacy advocate Ruth J. Colvin and her husband Robert

ruth j colvin

The Life-Long Learning Endowed Scholarship Honoring Ruth J. and Robert J. Colvin has been established in the departments of English and World Languages and Literatures that will support deserving students and relieve them of their financial pressures. The scholarship is named in honor of Ruth J. and Robert J. Colvin to recognize their commitment to education and their impact on improving communication and understanding among people worldwide.

Ruth J. Colvin was born in Chicago in 1916 and earned her associate’s degree from Thornton Junior College in Harvey, Illinois, before obtaining her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. After reading census reports in 1961, Colvin learned about the serious illiteracy problem across the country, including in Syracuse. Catalyzed into action, Colvin began an effort to transform education and its impact on literacy for adults.

With an innovative focus on community networks that empowered adult learners in new ways, Colvin founded and served as the first president and life board member of Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc. (LVA), an organization that trained and developed volunteers to teach basic adult literacy and English to speakers of other languages through one-on-one interactions or small groups.

In 2002, LVA and Laubauch Literacy International merged to form what is formally known as ProLiteracy, a nonprofit organization that supports programs that help adults learn to read and write. Over the decades, Colvin, along with her husband Robert, visited and worked in more than 60 countries. She has received numerous honors and awards including the U.S.A. President’s Volunteer Action Award in 1987, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1991, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006.

This scholarship will ensure that the Colvins' impact on education continues, as it will ensure financial security for College of Arts and Sciences students pursuing degrees in English and world languages.

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