SRU dedicates memorial gardens for the late Carolyn Carruth Rizza


the garden at Storm Harbor

Paul Rizza donated money to help construct a garden at the Storm Harbor Equestrian Center in memory of his late wife, Carolyn Carruth Rizza, who passed away last year.

Oct. 30, 2023

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University held a dedication ceremony, Oct. 27, at the Storm Harbor Equestrian Center in memory of the center's late benefactor, Carolyn Carruth Rizza. The newly completed Carolyn Carruth Rizza Memorial Garden now sits near the entrance of the SHEC to pay tribute to Rizza, who passed away Dec. 27, 2022, at the age of 78.

The 60-by-60-foot garden includes a green space with benches, a stone walkway, a pondless water feature, caste lighting, perennial flowers and other plants, and flowering crab apple, hemlock and fir trees. Funding for the project was provided by a donation from Carolyn's husband, Paul Rizza, and her brother, Brady Carruth.

"I wanted something to remember Carolyn and her connection to SRU and the Storm Harbor Equestrian Center," said Paul Rizza. "I like how this is going to be here for people to enjoy forever when they visit the equestrian center. I'm amazed by how quickly it came together and I'm thankful for the support of the University and President (Karen) Riley."

"Carolyn was a benefactor to Slippery Rock University in every sense of the word," said Samantha Swift, SRU interim vice president for university advancement. "It is so appropriate there is a living memorial adorning the place that she created and loved."

Carolyn Rizza served on the SRU faculty for 24 years before retiring in 1999 as a professor of sociology and social work. Carolyn Rizza and her husband, Paul, also a former SRU professor, donated more than $1 million to the equestrian center, including money to build the center and the endowment to pay its staff. They also funded a 2019 project that expanded the facility to more than 23,700 square feet (about four times the area of a basketball court) and stalls for 18 horses.

The SHEC provides equine-assisted activities and equine-assisted therapies for children and adults with disabilities, serving people from more than six counties. It also provides SRU students opportunities to serve individuals with disabilities, giving them valuable field experiences.

Read more about the life and legacy of Carolyn Rizza in the spring 2023 issue of The ROCK magazine. More information about SHEC is available on the SRU website.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854  |