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William Ronalds Is an Artist With a Commitment to Helping Others

Friday, August 23, 2013

William Ronalds has lived and practiced in the world of art for his entire professional life. As a young man he began his career as an illustrator, and later took his talent in a different direction when he became a faculty member in the Fine Arts Department of St. John's University. He acknowledges that making the transition from commercial art to academia was one of the best decisions of his life.

"I started my career as a freelance illustrator in Manhattan," he recalled, "in the days when record jackets were 12 inches by 12 inches and utilized a lot of art on the covers. And then I came to St. John's as a member of the faculty and absolutely loved it."

William was at St. John's for 23 years, of which he spent 10 as Department Chairman. After his retirement he relocated to Maine, enjoying the opportunity to live his life as a "full-time, 100 percent artist. That's something I never had a chance to do before."

This energetic former professor has warm memories of his time at the University, and is proud of the ways in which the Fine Arts Department (now known as the Department of Art and Design) has evolved over the years. In addition to the traditional offerings of painting, sculpture and photography, students can now pursue coursework in a number of cutting-edge specialties, including graphic design, print and digital media, and musical theater.

Attesting to their scholastic and professional excellence, the programs were recently accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, one of the most prestigious and demanding accrediting agencies in the field.

The St. John's Student
William's fondest memories, however, are of the students whom he taught and mentored. He has watched them grow into successful practitioners, noting that their incredible talent and willingness to work hard were always hallmarks of the St. John's student.

"The St. John's students are the best kids in the world," William said. "Many of them come from relatively modest backgrounds, and there's something genuine about them. And they're so talented! For example, The National Arts Club in Manhattan hosts an annual exhibition for all of the art schools located within New York City. And St. John's students always hold their own when it comes to awards."

William has established a scholarship to provide financial assistance to talented Art and Design students who come from families coping with financial burdens. He has also included the University in his will, making him a member of The McCallen Society.

"St. John's has a way of working its way into people's hearts," William said. "The interaction of hard-working faculty with hard-working students is a great combination that you don't find at many other places. But you find it at St. John's, and I'm happy that I'm able to do my part to support it."

You Can Make a Difference
If you are interested in establishing a scholarship or would like to include a gift in your estate plans to support St. John's students, please contact Susan Damiani at damianis@stjohns.edu or 718-990-7562 today to learn how to get started.

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