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Kent State to Bestow Honorary Degree to Fashion Empire CEO

Posted Mar. 22, 2011

Leonardo Ferragamo, CEO, Palazzo Feroni Finanziaria S.p.A.Kent State University will bestow the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters to Leonardo Ferragamo, chief executive officer of Palazzo Feroni Finanziaria S.p.A., a holding company of the shoe and luxury goods dynasty Salvatore Ferragamo of Florence, Italy. The special ceremony will take place on Thursday, April 7, at 5 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Kiva. During the same ceremony, Ferragamo also will be inducted into the university’s Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising Hall of Fame for his internationally recognized expertise in the global merchandising of the Salvatore Ferragamo brand of women’s footwear, handbags, scarves as well as the men’s shoes and clothing line.

The event is free and open to the public. The Kiva auditorium is located in the Kent Student Center at 1075 Risman Drive in Kent, Ohio. Free parking will be available in the visitor parking lot. For more information or to reserve a seat, call 330-672-2760 or email Reservations are not required but are encouraged.

Ferragamo was nominated for an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Kent State’s College of the Arts and the College of Communication and Information, with direct input from the Fashion School, which has a Florence program. In addition to Ferragamo’s driving force in organizing and supporting fashion trade in Florence, it was his clear leadership and vision in preserving Florentine culture and arts in Florence which attracted John R. Crawford, dean of the College of the Arts, and Stanley Wearden, dean of the College of Communication and Information, along with Fashion School Director J.R. Campbell to forward his nomination. His direct support to Kent State’s Florence campus, Palazzo dei Cerchi, has afforded many enriching, internationally based opportunities for both fashion and communication majors studying a semester in Florence.

The process for awarding the degree begins with nominations from Kent State colleges and academic departments to the institution’s Citation and Recognition Committee. Nominees who receive the approval from the committee are then recommended to the Kent State Board of Trustees and Kent State President Lester A. Lefton for approval.

Leonardo Ferragamo entered the family company of Salvatore Ferragamo Italia in 1975 as assistant to the technical director of production.

Since 1919, the Ferragamo Company has been world renowned for its unparalleled design and production of women’s footwear, handbags, scarves and accessories, and most of the stars of Hollywood, stage and screen appeared in designs by Ferragamo. In 1970, the Ferragamo Company began producing men’s shoes and clothing, which was driven by Leonardo Ferragamo in the 1980s.

Leonardo Ferragamo went on to create and extend the men’s wear division, beginning with footwear, then with accessories and clothing. He remained head of the sector until 1987 when he became director of the commercial activity and therefore of Europe, Asia, and subsequently South America markets. He devoted himself mainly to the development and commercialization of the Ferragamo product over those areas, after which he took on the role of chief executive officer of the Europe Asia Division.

Since the beginning of 2000, as CEO of Palazzo Feroni Finanziaria, Leonardo Ferragamo guides the diversified investments of the Ferragamo Group among which he chairs the Lungarno Hotels. He is the honorary chairman of Altagamma, the luxury goods companies association that he has chaired for nine years from 2000-2009, and the Palazzo Strozzi Partners Association whose objective is to support Florence as an important center of international art and culture. He also is adviser of Salvatore Ferragamo Italia and of Ferragamo Finanziaria, the financial holding of the group.

In May 2008, Leonardo Ferragamo received the title of Honorary Member of the Academy of Fine Arts of Florence. Kent State’s honorary degree will be the first American honorary degree received by Leonardo Ferragamo.

The induction of Leonardo Ferragamo into the Kent State Fashion School’s Hall of Fame was based on his continued pursuance of his family’s legacy in designing and producing luxury market footwear, clothing, accessories, handbags, eyewear and timepieces worldwide. Moreover, he has contributed greatly to the development of arts and culture in Florence, Italy, and has sponsored some of the key fashion exhibitions there, including Pitti Immagine.

The Kent State Fashion School Hall of Fame includes other significant individuals, such as Oscar de la Renta, Anna Sui, Estée Lauder, Judith Leiber, Cynthia Rowley, Michael Weiss, Ralph Rucci and Kent State alumna Linda Allard.

For more information on Kent State's School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, visit

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Photo Caption:
On April 7, fashion empire CEO Leonardo Ferragamo will receive an honorary degree from Kent State University. He also will be inducted into the university’s Fashion School Hall of Fame.

Photo Note:
Digital Images of Leonardo Ferragamo are available by contacting Effie Tsengas at

Media Contacts:
Effie Tsengas,, 330-672-8398
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595