Bowling Green State University christens research boat in Sandusky

10/25/2019 11:00 AM

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The RV Ziggy research boat was christened at the Sandusky Yacht Club on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. -- Register photo/ERIN CALDWELL

SANDUSKY — Bowling Green State University professors and students studying algal blooms in Lake Erie next year will be able to roam the lake using the school’s new boat.

School officials christened a 28-foot research vessel, the RV Ziggy, in a ceremony early Wednesday afternoon at the Sandusky Yacht Club.

The boat cost $175,000. The school bought it using money donated to the school by two loyal graduates, Patrick L. Ryan and Debra Scheetz Ryan, and the couple’s Ryan Family Foundation.

Led by the school’s president, Rodney K. Rogers, a small crowd toasted the boat from glasses of sparkling cider. Pat Ryan then smashed a bottle against the boat’s bow, and the couple’s daughter-in-law, Jennifer Ryan, tossed branches of lemon leaves, symbolizing a vessel’s safe return, on top of the boat.

In 2001, the couple endowed a professorship, the Patrick L. and Debra Scheetz Ryan Endowed Professor of Biology.

The current Ryan Professor, algal bloom expert Tim Davis, said the boat, equipped with two 250-horsepower engines, will be invaluable to researchers.

“It has incredible range and will allow us to conduct studies all the way to Cleveland and into Canadian waters,” Davis said.

Clad in fashionable BGSU orange, Patrick Ryan explained after the ceremony that school officials had approached the couple and asked for help getting the boat.

“They said, ‘We really need a research vessel’,” Ryan said. “When the blooms pop up, they need to get there sooner rather than later.”

BGSU scientists have been studying the algal bloom in Sandusky Bay for years and city officials such as the ex officio mayor, Dennis Murray Jr., showed up for Tuesday’s ceremony.

The Ryans, Wadsworth residents, are both 1974 BGSU graduates. Pat Ryan, president of The PDR Group LLC, earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Debra Scheetz Ryan earned a bachelor’s in biology.

Both Falcons have been supporters of the school for years. Debra Ryan was on the BGSU Board of Trustees for nine years, including stints as chair and vice-chair. Pat Ryan was on the BGSU Foundation board for 11 years and was board chair and chair of the Investment Committee.

The couple has been married 44 years and met when both were BGSU students.

The pair met at a party in Bowling Green when they were both seniors at the school.

“It was right after we came back from Christmas break,” Debra Ryan said.

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