Karl J. Roden was the first Treasurer of East Central Ohio Mensa and held in warm regard by many members. After his untimely death members wanted to honor his memory, and determined to put the existing annual scholarship award program in his name. That program, originated in 1981, is a cash award to a recipient selected from applicants who have submitted an essay for judging.

If not the first in Mensa, this was one of the first essay-based scholarship programs offered by a local group. It has also been among the largest scholarship awards made by Mensa local groups. The concept was picked up right away (or thought of concurrently) by Mensa Education & Research Foundation (MERF), which currently sponsors and administers a separate substantial program of scholarship awards across the United States and internationally.