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2016 Media Releases

DU Receives $2M Gift from the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, Honors Professor Ron Rizzuto

Feb. 5, 2016 – Today the University of Denver (DU) celebrates one of its most beloved professors with a gift that ensures his lasting legacy. In recognition of Ron Rizzuto's 40 years of outstanding teaching and research at Daniels College of Business, the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation provided a $2 million gift to establish an endowed chair in his name.

The Ron Rizzuto Chair for Excellence in International Executive Education will support Dr. Rizzuto's ongoing work with the Chinese Executive Media Management Program (CEMMP). The program equips Chinese mid-career executives and government officials with the business skills to ensure a more successful future for China's media industry.

CEMMP has become an outstanding model over the past 16 years recognized by China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film & Television, China Central Television, and many of China's local TV stations. Called a "mini media MBA" the program provides classroom and practical training for media industry leaders. It culminates in competing business plans of which three have launched into actual businesses in China.

"I am honored that Anna and John have chosen to name this chair after me. The combination of their intelligence, passion and compassion makes them truly inspiring," said Dr. Rizzuto. "I am dedicated to not only expanding CEMMP in China and at DU, but to establishing new programs with other nations through executive education."

The work of the Rizzuto Chair will enhance the Daniels College of Business's growing international reputation and visibility by targeting mid-level and senior executives.

"We hope this gift will help bring people of other nations closer together," said John J. Sie, Co-Trustee of the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation and a cable TV pioneer. "The fellows who participate in these programs are leaders in their industries and can bring about significant change in a relatively short time. We are confident Ron will grow the program into another world-class program for the Daniels College of Business."

This gift is an extension of the Sies' interest in international relations and in their investment in the University. John was born in China and his father was the Ambassador to the Vatican for China – the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at DU is named in his honor. Anna was born in Italy and established a chair in Italian Language and Literature at DU named in honor of her parents. Michelle Sie Whitten, the Sies' daughter who runs the family foundation, worked with Dr. Rizzuto, several professors, and The Cable Center to establish the CEMMP program in 1999. The program now has 137 executive alumni in China.

The Sies' longstanding and interdisciplinary partnership with the University continues to provide transformational support for the academic experience. Their investment in this endowed chair reflects a commitment both to the work of the Rizzuto Chair and to the overall academic priorities of the University.

The gift aligns with Chancellor Rebecca Chopp's vision for the future—represented in DU IMPACT 2025, the University's bold strategic plan—by investing in high-achieving faculty, whose work is central to the University. The Sies' investment is a testament to this commitment and the vision of Daniels Dean Brent Chrite. Faculty members guide student learning, design and translate knowledge and research, and serve both the institution and the public good. The Rizzuto Chair epitomizes the global impact of a faculty member's work. The Anna and John J. Sie Foundation's gift aligns with one of the University's great priorities: supporting the outstanding faculty whose work transforms student lives and society.

"Anna and John have given so much to the students and faculty at DU. This most recent gift underscores their commitment to strengthening our intellectual community and their generosity will benefit research and teaching for decades to come," said Brent Chrite, dean of Daniels College of Business.