Ron ’72 and Simi Rinard realize just how life-changing and rewarding traveling abroad and learning about other cultures can be, which is why they decided to endow the Ronald ’72 and Simin Shelton Rinard International Travel Grants Program with a $1.5 million pledge over the course of five years.

“This was my wonderful wife’s idea,” Ron said.

The grant program, which will begin supporting students this summer, will help cover the costs associated with studying abroad, including tuition, fees, travel costs, and other ancillary expenses. Grants will be available for summer and semester education abroad sessions, with priority given to credit-bearing opportunities with approved academic partners.

“We want to enable young minds to explore and learn about other cultures,” Simi said. “And then bring it back as a gift for others.”

Born in Iran, Simi said her family traveled frequently, enjoying various cultures and developing a respect for them. Eventually moving to the United States, she experienced her new homeland with a global perspective.

Ron grew up in Washington County, Ohio, about 25 miles from Marietta College. A country boy with an interest in engineering, he majored in Petroleum Engineering and enjoyed a rewarding career in the energy industry, which included travel to Asia, South America and New Zealand. He also served on the College’s Board of Trustees. His goal is to have so many students taking advantage of the grant program that there is a waiting list.

“I grew up locally, and never considered traveling the world,” Ron said. “I didn’t leave North America until my mid-30s. Being on the Board for 10 years, it was clear to me (studying abroad) was not a priority. Like Simi said, you learn so much traveling to other countries. We just want to make that possible for Marietta students. Hopefully, the program will become a meaningful enticement for potential students with a Pioneer spirit.”

Christy Burke, Director of Education Abroad, believes that the Rinard Grant will be the springboard for students who have never traveled abroad or who never thought they could afford international travel to take advantage of this life-changing educational opportunity.

“Whether it’s financial challenges or because they think their major or extracurricular programs won’t allow for it, Ron and Simi’s generous donation to the College is going to remove many of the hurdles that current students face when it comes to pursuing study abroad,” said Burke. “I am incredibly grateful to Ron and Simi for taking something that is close to their hearts and giving students the opportunity to explore the world.”

To learn more about donating to Marietta College, please go to or call (740) 376-4711.