Indiana State University Newsroom

Scholarship will honor 31-year ISU faculty member and his wife

October 21, 2021

A legacy gift to Indiana State University will create the Burns Senseman Endowed Scholarship in Engineering and Technology.

The gift honors emeritus faculty member Dr. Richard Lyons Burns and his wife Ruth Virginia Naber Burns. The couple’s daughter, Rita Burns Senseman, and her husband Ken Senseman made the gift that will support students in the College of Technology.

In recognition of the gift, ISU’s Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Dr. Richard Lyons Burns and Ruth Virginia Naber Burns Lab on the second floor of the Myers Technology Center.

“ISU is important in our family, not only because my father taught in the College of Technology for over 30 years but because we and other members of our family benefitted greatly from the university and life-long friendships were established here,” Rita Burns Senseman said.

Rita Burns Senseman and Ken Senseman graduated from Indiana State. Rita earned a degree in education in 1983. Ken earned a degree in manufacturing technology in 1980 and currently serves as president of Terre Haute-based Lee Company. The Senseman family has owned and operated the Lee Company for nearly 40 years.

“The Burns Senseman family has a longstanding connection to Indiana State,” said Andrea Angel, vice president of university advancement and CEO of the ISU Foundation. “We are very thankful to Rita and Ken for choosing to honor their family’s deep connections to the university with their generous gift.”

Dr. Richard Burns served on ISU’s faculty from 1964 until his retirement in 1995. During his 31-year career, Burns was instrumental in developing the mechanical technology program and was involved in several local and national professional organizations.

The Burnses raised five children in Terre Haute, all of whom are graduates of Indiana State.  They were married for 44 years before the passing of Mrs. Burns. Dr. Burns passed away in 2005.

“Dr. Burns’ legacy as a dedicated faculty member is a very special one for the College of Technology,” said Nesli Alp, dean of the ISU College of Technology. “He taught generations of students and helped to establish the Mechanical Engineering Technology degree into the influential program it is today.

“The gift from Ken and Rita in memory of Rita’s parents will help generations of students to pursue careers in technology and engineering at Indiana State.”

Said Ken Senseman: “As the parents of three daughters who have chosen analytical careers, it’s very important to us to assist other young women as they pursue careers in STEM. We are delighted to honor Rita’s father and mother while also promoting the advancement of women in engineering and technology.”

The Burns Senseman Endowed Scholarship in Engineering and Technology will be awarded beginning in the 2022-23 academic year.

Photo of Dr. Richard Lyons Burns and Ruth Virginia Naber Burns

Media contacts: 

Mark Alesia, Director of University Communication 

(O) 812-237-3837 

(C) 812-229-8020

Dianne Powell, Associate Director of University Communication

(O) 812-237-8764

(C) 812-878-2131