Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

College of Education, LEP receive $5 million

To honor a program they say opened doors for their daughter, Joan and Mike Ruffatto have donated $5 million toward the construction of a building to house DU’s Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP) and College of Education.

The building — named Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall after the donors’ daughter — will be constructed on Evans Avenue between Race and High streets.

“The Ruffattos are passionate supporters of the Learning Effectiveness Program, and we are so grateful they have chosen to recognize the impact it had on their daughter’s life by helping give it, and the College of Education, a new building to share,” says Chancellor Robert Coombe. 

“The co-location will enable the two programs to develop collaborative research and community outreach, which will have a positive outcome for our community and our state.”

At age 12, Kathie Ruffatto (BA biology ’05) was diagnosed with Lupus — an autoimmune disease in which the immune system, for unknown reasons, becomes hyperactive and attacks normal tissue and body functions.

“Students with chronic health conditions are often misunderstood academically, which can lead to educators making the wrong assumptions about the student’s ability and motivation,” says LEP Director Ted May. “The education options for students like Kathie are usually limited not by the individual’s intelligence and commitment, but by attitudes that some educational professionals hold about people with these health conditions.”

May says the LEP offers comprehensive, individualized services to more than 200 DU students with learning disabilities, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Those services include individual academic counselors, tutoring, and organizational and study strategies specialists.

The Ruffattos are long-time Denver residents and philanthropists. Joan joined the LEP last year as an academic counselor; Mike is president of North American Power Group Ltd., which is headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colo.

“This gift is our way of saying thank you to DU for what the Learning Effectiveness Program did for our child,” Joan Ruffatto says. “If it wasn’t for the LEP and Ted May, there are a lot of students who would not have graduated.”

This article originally appeared in The Source, March 2007.

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