Alumna Roe Green to Receive Honorary Kent State University Doctoral Degree

The Kent State University Board of Trustees has approved awarding Roe Green, MA ’80, a Doctor of Humane Letters, an honorary degree recognizing her contributions to the university and her advocacy for the arts not only in Northeast Ohio, but also across the nation and around the world. Green will receive her honorary degree at a Kent State Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 12.   

“I am truly overwhelmed by this honor,” Green said. “It’s always rewarding to receive recognition from the organizations you’ve worked so hard to support over the years, but this honorary degree is more meaningful than I can express. It encompasses my life’s work as a patron and advocate of the arts, and I am grateful to all those who considered and supported my nomination.” 

Green graduated from Kent State in 1980 with a Master of Arts in Theatre and received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Communications from the University of Colorado Boulder 10 years prior in 1970. Green now splits her time between Lyndhurst, Ohio; Chautauqua, New York; and Jupiter, Florida.

“Roe has made a career as a high-profile arts advocate and has impacted the arts landscape in Northeast Ohio, New York, Florida, Colorado and Canada, where theatre students and enthusiasts have been the beneficiaries,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “She is most deserving of this honorary doctorate, and we are very proud to celebrate her in this way.”

Honorary degrees are awarded to professional, civic, national and state leaders in public affairs, prominent educators and distinguished contributors to the arts, sciences and humanities. Honorary degrees at Kent State are only awarded when an individual has demonstrated outstanding achievement in their recognized field, and to those whose contributions have advanced the university and are significant enough to have been acknowledged at a state, national or international level.

Green has become synonymous with the arts community, supporting Kent State as well as other great institutions, including Case Western Reserve University, Chautauqua Institution, Cleveland Play House, Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the University of Colorado Boulder through the Roe Green Foundation, a nonprofit organization she established in 1999.

“We are proud to call Roe a College of the Arts alumna because she is known in the arts community as a visionary leader with innovative ideas whose impact has been felt at Kent State, regionally and nationally,” said Diane H. Petrella, D.M.A., dean of Kent State’s College of the Arts. 

As a long-standing philanthropic partner to many, Kent State has been fortunate to be a beneficiary of her support for more than 20 years. Green’s generous contributions have funded new facilities and programs that have enriched the educational experiences of thousands of students. She is known as the “fairy godmother to the arts” at Kent State. 

In 2003, she established the Roe Green Visiting Director Series with a $25,000 gift, allowing Kent State’s School of Theatre and Dance to invite a professional guest director each year to work in residency with students while directing one of the school’s main stage productions. Green went on to endow the series in 2018 with both an outright and planned gift totaling nearly $2.2 million, ensuring Kent State students can continue to work with a diverse group of industry professionals. 

“Roe has empowered and guided well over a thousand students in the School of Theatre and Dance,” said Eric van Baars, retired director of the School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State. “She takes pride in the achievements of every student involved in the Visiting Director Series and has mentored so many. Passing on her knowledge to future generations is important to Roe.”

She was also instrumental in facility upgrades within the Kent State School of Theatre and Dance. After touring the Music and Speech Building, which was experiencing flooding at the time, she pledged $6.5 million in 2006 to the $13 million project to renovate and expand the building, which celebrated its grand opening in November 2010. The updated building is nearly double in size, allowing more space for theatre and dance students to rehearse, learn and grow, and the building’s addition was named the Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance in her honor. 

Green has made significant contributions to special projects at the university, including the Porthouse Theatre 50th Anniversary in 2016, and most recently, she pledged $100,000 to Kent State’s new Global Education Endowment, which aims to provide every incoming undergraduate student with financial support for an education-abroad experience.

In addition to her impactful financial support, Green gives her time and talents to a number of Kent State boards and committees, providing guidance that has shaped the future of key Kent State programs. She currently serves as a member of the Porthouse Theatre Action Committee, College of the Arts Advisory Board and School of Theatre and Dance Advisory Board. She is also a past member of the Forever Brighter Campaign Executive Committee and an Emeritus Member of Kent State University Foundation Board of Directors. 

While Green is most well known for her work behind the scenes as an arts patron, mentor and advisor, or more literally as a former stage manager for the Singing Angels and Cleveland Opera, she also shines on stage. She was a featured speaker at Kent State’s 2008 spring commencement ceremony, and she competed in ballroom dancing for more than 12 years. 

“To me, the arts are what makes us human,” Green said. “It allows you to go outside yourself and be something other than you are.” 

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Photo Caption:
Roe Green, MA ’80, who will be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from Kent State University, is pictured in the lobby of the Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State. 

Media Contact: 
Leigh Greenfelder,, 330-672-7108

POSTED: Tuesday, March 21, 2023 10:37 AM
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2023 10:48 AM
Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement