Drake University leaders announced today the creation of the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center. The Ray Center will focus its efforts globally on applied research and programming in leadership, ethics, and civility.
Drake will acquire the Iowa-based nonprofit Character Counts In Iowa as a foundational element of the new Center, which will leverage the mission, vision, research, relationships, and reputation of the organization to immediately position The Ray Center for positive community impact.
The Ray Center will continue and expand upon the work of Character Counts In Iowa with students, parents, athletic teams, corporations, nonprofits, government organizations, and municipalities. The Center will conduct research, provide programming and training, and publish scholarly works focusing on leadership, ethics, and civility.
Through its name and activities, The Ray Center will honor the legacy of former Drake University President and Iowa Governor Robert D. Ray and his wife, Billie, both of whom are Drake alumni.
“Billie and I are humbled and honored with the creation of The Ray Center,” said Governor Ray. “We are so proud of all that Drake University continues to provide to their students and our community, and we are excited to have the outstanding work of Character Counts In Iowa become the foundation of the Center.”
The Ray Center will be housed in the recently announced School of Education and Department of Mathematics and Computer Science building, part of the STEM@DRAKE initiative.
“As a University we have a responsibility to serve the greater good, as well as to prepare our students for responsible global citizenship,” said Drake University President David Maxwell. “The work of The Ray Center will advance Drake’s core commitment to civil discourse and ethical leadership, and to model those values to the world.”
Hy-Vee, Inc. has committed $1 million toward capital development for The Ray Center. The contribution further strengthens the relationship between Hy-Vee and Drake in areas that range from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to the Drake Relays.
“Hy-Vee has been actively involved in Character Counts In Iowa for a number of years, and this contribution was a natural fit to build upon our partnership with the organization and Drake University,” said Randy Edeker, chairman, CEO, and president of Hy-Vee. “We are excited to support a center that pays tribute to the legacy of Gov. Ray and his wife through its dedication to developing strong, ethical leaders for our communities.”
In 2012, Hy-Vee donated $300,000 to Drake for construction of the Hy-Vee Student Learning Commons within the University’s new Cline Atrium for Pharmacy and Science. Also that year, Hy-Vee became the presenting sponsor of the Drake Relays, which now boasts some of the largest prize purses in the United States, intense competition by dozens of the world’s top Olympic and championship athletes, and the nation’s only elite high jump event held within the produce section of a grocery store.
The Ray Center will be led by Scott Raecker, who currently serves as executive director of Character Counts In Iowa, and the organization’s current staff.
“This is an historic opportunity,” said Raecker. “We are confident that honoring the legacy of Governor and Mrs. Ray at Drake University, with the foundation of our efforts to date, will position The Ray Center to positively impact generations to come.”
Founded in 1997 by former Governor Ray as part of Iowa’s sesquicentennial celebration, Character Counts In Iowa has been a grant-funded institute at Drake since inception, and serves a regional center for the national CHARACTER COUNTS! organization, the Josephson Institute, and the regional center for the Institute for Excellence & Ethics. Character Counts In Iowa has worked with more than 40,000 Iowa educators, coaches, and community leaders to teach the iconic Six Pillars of Character as developed by CHARACTER COUNTS!—trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship—in schools, workplaces, communities, and in the home.