Trine gets $1M early Christmas gift from alum

December 23, 2015

Christmas came early to Trine University with a $1 million gift from Dr. Ralph Ketner, for whom the Ketner School of Business is named. Trine thanks him for the donation, which is designated for the Ketner School of Business (KSB) Endowment Fund.

“Dr. Ketner is excited by the newly refurbished Ford Hall, home of the Ketner School,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Trine president. “His generous gift reflects his commitment to the business school and future generations of students.”

Dr. Ketner, a 1939 accounting graduate, made a $500,000 gift to his namesake business school in 2009. He came to Trine, then Tri–State College and later Tri–State University, to attend school in 1937 at age 17. Orphaned by his parents′ deaths during the Great Depression, he nonetheless possessed what he describes in his book, "Five Fast Pennies," as a different attitude and point of view. "I saw problems as opportunities in disguise. I saw a lemon and made lemonade. I started thinking before starting to work. I never had ambitious goals for myself, but have always done my very best on every job," he writes.

In 1957, He co-founded Food Town, later to become Food Lion, a successful 1,300-store grocery chain in the mid-Atlantic and southeast United States.

Dr. Ketner is a benefactor of Trine University’s Ketner School of Business and has contributed nearly $2 million to endow a chair as well as establish an endowment fund in the school. The Ketner Sports Center in Hershey Hall is also named in his honor to recognize another $500,000 commitment in 2003.

He served as Tri–State University′s commencement speaker in 1982, when he received an honorary doctorate. He received Trine University’s highest honor, the Pillar of Success Award in 2005. The award recognizes individuals for their achievements and accomplishments, leadership, service, philanthropy, commitment to their community and Trine University.

Dr. Ketner celebrated his 95th birthday in September and remains actively engaged with the University as well as his local community in Catawba, N.C. A day after his birthday, the documentary “Lessons in Leadership – The Story of Ralph W. Ketner” was released. It was produced through a partnership with Food Lion and Catawba College to document Dr. Ketner’s business life and philosophy.

Those inspired by Dr. Ketner’s generous donation may make a gift designated to KSB, scholarships or another program. To make a gift before the end of the year, visit or call 260.665.4114. The deadline to have your gift count for 2015 is 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31.

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