Plastics Industry Innovator Helps Mold Future of Ashtabula County in New Building

Return to Issue of Feb. 8, 2010


The Robert S. Morrison building celebration included family members and university leaders.
Kent State University at Ashtabula recently celebrated the opening of a state-of-the-art classroom facility that will help educate the next generation of health care professionals. The building was due in large part to the generosity of an innovator in the plastics industry.

Robert S. Morrison, the namesake of the new building, was a philanthropist that gave back to the Ashtabula community where he started his work long ago. The founder of Molder Fiber Glass Companies 61 years ago, Morrison never forgot where he came from. Even though his research facilities are located all over the country, the world headquarters has remained in Ashtabula since its founding. Morrison worked in the plastic industry until his death in 2002.

“His dedication for science and research created a new type of product and a new industry, the reinforced plastic industry,” says Morrison’s daughter, Louise Morrison Raffa.

On Aug. 27, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in front of the new $15 million, 55,000-square-foot building. Raffa stood with 300 project donors and campus faculty and staff members to memorialize her father’s work.

“This is a very happy day for me,” Raffa says.

The Robert S. Morrison Foundation was the leading donor for the new building, which is now the new home to the campus’ nursing and allied health programs including: occupational therapy assistant technology, physical therapist assistant technology, radiologic technology and respiratory therapy.

This facility not only represents a great opportunity for higher education, but also realizes economic opportunity for the community.

“My father believed the greatest service he could give to the society was to provide as many jobs as possible for families,” says Raffa. “He would have been very pleased this beautiful center in the heart of our community is named in his honor.”

The new building is equipped with a human-patient simulation lab, where a life-sized plastic “patient” awaits nursing students. Almost like a real patient, the human-patient simulator responds physiologically to stimuli. The simulator can “bleed” and produce “bodily fluids” and can be programmed to respond to medication and recognize oxygen levels, while allowing students to administer intravenous medications, intubation, ventilation and catheterization.

State Representative Deborah Newcomb also spoke at the ceremony of the opportunities the new building will bring.

“This building will give area students access to state-of-the-art equipment, classrooms and labs. This new Health and Science building offers students the right tools to create unprecedented opportunities to achieve their highest potential,” Newcomb says.

Radiology students can take real X-rays in two lead-lined laboratories. The modern labs also will be used in the nursing and physical therapist assistant technology programs and the respiratory therapy program. The building also will house the only human cadaver lab along the Lake Erie shoreline between Cleveland and Erie.

Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton concluded the ceremony.

“Today and for decades to come, the Robert S. Morrison building will stand for excellence; excellence that serves students, excellence that will help the region and its residents, for decades and decades.”

To see a video about the ribbon-cutting ceremony, visit

By Judd Bernardo

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