IU-Kokomo scores $3.5M gift from Biglari board member

Longtime Steak n Shake and Biglari Holdings board member Ruth Janssen Person has donated $3.5 million to Indiana University Kokomo, where she served as chancellor from 1999 to 2008.

The donation—the largest ever to the IU Kokomo campus—will be used for student scholarships.

Person, 70, joined the board of Indianapolis-based Steak n Shake in 2002 and stayed on after Biglari Holdings acquired the restaurant chain in 2010.

The scholarship fund started with Person's gift will be called the RMJ Scholars Program after the middle names of Florence Richardson McGee, Person’s godmother; Ruth Mahoney Janssen, Person's mother; and Person.

Person has been a professor of management at University of Michigan-Flint since 2008 and was the school's  chancellor from 2008 to 2014.

She is a former board member of the Indiana Technology Partnership and the Key Bank-Central Indiana advisory board.  She also was a professor of management at IU Kokomo from 1999 to 2008.

“My ultimate goal is for the students to have success—to complete their IU degree and graduate,” Person said in a written statement. “After graduation, it is my hope that many of them would stay in north central Indiana and contribute to leadership in the future.”

IU Kokomo officials said Person helped secure a $1 million federal grant to renovate the now-Inventrek building for use as a business incubator that has launched numerous businesses in the last decade.

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