Published November 30, 2018

We have witnessed a story of love and respect for a man and the life he gave to our community.  The outpouring of giving that took place on Tuesday’s ‘Giving Blueday’ with the announcement of the Rick Riolo Memorial Fund, was unbelievable - and totally believable at the same time.  

Rick Riolo, who passed away in August, was a beloved scholar, friend, mentor, and colleague to the Complex Systems community here at Michigan and beyond. Rick was a co-founder of the Center and a pioneer in the field of complex systems.  Although he was noted for many accomplishments he touched our community most as a mentor to students. In 2003 the Center received an NSF IGERT award to support PhD students in the social sciences who chose to do their dissertation in the field of complex systems. More than 40 of these students came through Complex Systems and Rick taught them all.  To honor his dedication to students, the fund was created exclusively to support student research.

In one day, we raised more than $22,174.  Remarkable. The average donation amount was in the hundreds.  The fund received more money and more donors than almost every other LSA Unit Fund. The College provided $5,000 as a bonus for having such a successful campaign. Thank you to LSA and the many people who donated. Your support is breathtaking.

Scott Page decided to give a special lecture in Rick's honor on this day and also to give a copy of his new book to all who donated more than $100 to the fund so he purchased 50, just in case.  He is now buying more. Of the more than 70 individual donors, most were in the $100 plus category. Thirteen people donated more than $500 each, most of whose careers were personally changed by Rick Riolo. Such was the impact of this special gentle man.  

This fundraising achievement was not ours.  It was Rick.

The fund ensures that Rick’s legacy will live on at the Center for the Study of Complex Systems.  The idea we conceived was to set up a memorial fund in his name, the proceeds of which would be used exclusively to support, reward and inspire student research, both at the undergrad level, with an agent-based modeling prize, and at the graduate level, by supporting the work of the CSAAW group (the Complex Systems Advanced Academic Workshop - Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop) to which Rick devoted untold hours of his time. With the blessing of his wife Sue and his daughter Maria we set up the plan.

We hope that by establishing this fund to honor his legacy, students for years to come will know of Rick and his work and be inspired by them.