Going to Bat for Panther Baseball

Although many baseball fans look forward to its springtime rituals, Chuck Hildebrand’s passion for baseball spans all seasons. A professional sportswriter who also was a teacher and youth baseball coach, Chuck has authored a new book, Sad Riddance, about the 1965 Milwaukee Braves in the year before their move to Atlanta. His life’s legacy now includes an endowment to support the Milwaukee Panther baseball team. He established the endowment last year and has also made a provision in his will for an additional gift to his fund.

A native of California and graduate of San Jose State University, Chuck began spending his springs and summers in Milwaukee in 2007 and moved there fulltime and permanently in 2016.

He quickly realized that, as the only university in Wisconsin with an NCAA Division I baseball program, UWM plays a unique role in promoting and perpetuating baseball for the young players and fans of all ages in this state.

“I admire the Panthers baseball team and UWM’s outstanding coaching talent,” says Chuck. “These athletes play with passion that reflects the fact that they know they’re representing their families and their communities and their state, as well as their teammates and themselves. UWM puts competitive teams on the diamond every season despite challenges that few Division I programs must face, and I want to support these efforts.”

The impact of Chuck’s endowment gift has already been felt by the baseball team and its coaches. Athletic Director Amanda Braun notes, “Our athletes were very excited when they learned that someone with Chuck’s knowledge of the game chose to support their team. His confidence in our talent, our winning attitude, and the future of our program means the world to us.”




On a Roll for Change

Wheelchairs don’t require driver’s licenses or permits, but repeatedly using one the wrong way could result in injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or rotator cuff tears. Associate Professor Brooke Slavens is helping to develop a geared wheelchair that could reduce these types of injuries.

To accomplish this, Slavens has partnered with IntelliWheels, makers of a geared wheel system that would make using a wheelchair similar to riding a 10-speed bike. “The idea is that it would make it much easier for people to use and push, with less energy demands and hopefully fewer muscle demands,” she says. “Generous support from IntelliWheels is helping us make it easier for people to use wheelchairs.”

Slavens works directly with people of all ages, including veterans, who are
wheelchair users. She collaborates not only with pediatricians but also with
doctors at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. “We always team up with a
physician to help provide that clinical drive and insight to know that all the
work we’re doing is going to be applied to make an important impact and
change, not just engineer to engineer, but to be able to take what we’re doing
and provide it to someone in need.”

Marissa Siebel-Siero, co-founder of IntelliWheels, explains how important her company’s collaboration with UWM’s College of Health Sciences is. “Dr. Slavens’ work is part of a critical step in IntelliWheels’ innovation process. Innovation is only valuable if it truly solves a problem and fits the end-users’ needs. Having the opportunity to develop new ideas here at IntelliWheels, test them with Dr. Slavens’ assistance, and refine them with user feedback enables us to bring the right solution to market to serve the greater good.”

Searching for Energy Solutions

Growing up in Nepal, Nisrit Pandey and his family experienced frequent power outages, but when they explored purchasing solar panels as an alternative energy source, they discovered it would cost nearly 60 percent of his family’s annual income. This personal experience inspired Pandey to pursue a degree in materials engineering so he could work to identify affordable alternative energy solutions for people in developing countries.

Since his first semester at UWM, Pandey has participated in research with Associate Professor Benjamin Church and has presented his research on energy storage technologies across the U.S. He was awarded Outstanding Presentation at the University of Wisconsin System Research Symposium, edging out 750 other presenters.

Pandey is a recipient of UWM’s Academic Achievement Leadership Award as well as the KleinOsowski Scholarship, which is awarded to students in the Honors College. He says this support has been transformational to his experience at UWM. “My scholarships have allowed me to worry less about my finances and focus more on my extracurricular activities, research, and academics.

“Being in the Honors College has immensely developed my critical thinking and communication skills, and has allowed me to see how I can use my engineering skills for the benefit of society. Without scholarships, I cannot even imagine being in college.”

African American Faculty & Staff Council Gives Students a Boost

Graduation rates. It’s a topic that comes up frequently at meetings of UWM’s African American Faculty and Staff Council (AAFSC). The group’s members want to raise graduation rates among African American students and close the college-completion gap between black and white students at UWM.

Recently, they came up with one solution: a scholarship designed to help people finish out their last year at UWM. “As representatives of UWM, we wanted to demonstrate our commitment to the students we interact with on a daily basis,” says Diana Borders, assistant director of business services in the School of Education and co-chair of the AAFSC scholarship committee.

Why give scholarships at the end of the college experience? “Some students find it difficult to complete their degree in four years, and the financial aid funds they receive can run out before they finish,” she says. “Students in their final year at UWM have proven their commitment and desire to graduate, and with a bit of financial assistance, the odds of them getting to the graduation finish line are extremely high.”

The reaction among AAFSC members has been positive, and many have contributed to the fund. “Our members now act as foot soldiers, asking campus donors and community members to contribute to the scholarship program,” says Abigail Amissah-Arthur, assistant dean of the College of Health Sciences and co-chair of the AAFSC scholarship committee.

The AAFSC has partnered with the African-American Alumni Chapter (AAAC), a group that has also been exploring ways to provide financial assistance to those near graduation. Borders adds, “The collaboration between AAFSC and AAAC will help us reach our shared goal of increasing the number of students who walk across the stage at commencement, ready to embark on their careers.”

School of Ed Duo Creates Scholarship

Rob Longwell-Grice, a senior advisor in the School of Education, conducts research related to first-generation college students and what it takes for them to succeed in getting a degree. He and seven siblings were all first-generation college students, so this topic hits close to home for him.

He and his wife, Hope Longwell-Grice, an associate professor and associate dean at the school, have collaborated on papers about first-generation college students, but the two decided they wanted to do more. “Through Rob’s experiences and his studies, we came to realize the impact scholarships can have on access for first-generation students,” Hope explains.

The Longwell-Grices decided to create the Robert and Hope Longwell-Grice Scholarship in order to help first-generation students in UWM’s Higher Education Administration graduate program. By spring of 2017, the scholarship had been awarded to five students. “Our desire to establish a fund came from a hope of ‘paying it forward’ to multiple generation of first-gens,” say Rob and Hope. “This scholarship allows us to help fund first-gen students who, through their careers, will help others like them.”

As employees of UWM, the couple has long been contributing to UWM Gives to UWM, the university’s annual faculty-staff campaign. “As part of my job, I help coordinate the awarding of the School of Education scholarships,” says Rob, “and I saw people setting up permanent scholarships. I thought, ‘We should do that, and we could do that. UWM and the School of Education have been good to us, and we want to share our good fortune with others.”

Retired Nurse Helps Program She Once Led

When Barbara Friedbacher ’84 looks back on her 33-year career in nursing, she is most proud of her role in developing UWM’s Silver Spring Community Nursing Center. After working as a nurse for more than 20 years, Friedbacher earned her master’s degree at the College of Nursing in 1984 and was recruited to assist with the college’s expansion of community-based activities.

“Barb provided vital administrative leadership, staff development, and program oversight,” says Jean Bell-Calvin, current director of the Silver Spring Community Nursing Center and a mentee of Friedbacher. “This center has provided stability and continuity for our clients and the community. We help people stay healthy. People tell us, ‘If it weren’t for you, I don’t know where I’d be.’”

Friedbacher’s involvement didn’t end when she retired. In 2004, her family established an endowed fund in her honor to support programs for disadvantaged women and children. “My husband and I strongly believe in the right of every individual to readily accessible, high-quality, culturally relevant health care. We support the community nursing centers because of the demonstrated
effectiveness of the outstanding staff in delivering those services and the excellent learning opportunities for nursing students.”

French Department Icon Helps Students in Need

Martine Darmon Meyer was a beloved professor of French language, literature, and civilization at UWM for more than 40 years. She served for many years as chair of the Department of French, Italian, and Comparative Literature and was described by a colleague as “the soul of UWM French and our department.”

The Martine Meyer/Martha Best Scholarship, for students of the French, was established in Martin’s honor during her lifetime, but she wanted to do more.

A volunteer at Milwaukee Public Schools for 25 years, Meyer had a vision for helping local students who couldn’t afford college on their own. To do this, she made plans to establish the Martine Darmon Meyer Scholarship Fund through her estate. Rather than limit her support to just students of French, she opened it up to students of any department within the College of Letters & Science who demonstrate financial need.

Since Meyer’s death in 2013, her scholarship has been awarded to multiple students, including Veronika Greco (pictured above), who spoke at the 2016 Scholarship Reception. “I am so very grateful and amazed that I received this coveted scholarship,” she wrote to Meyer’s daughter. “Your mother has invested in my future and ultimately that of my entire family. I take my education very seriously, and UWM has been a positive and encouraging experience for me. Your mother’s generosity is overwhelming.”


Social Work Student Benefits from Professor’s Legacy

Samella Jolly (pictured above) has been in the social work field for more than 12 years, helping people afflicted with HIV/AIDS get housing and providing support for children with intellectual, physical, developmental, and social emotional disabilities. Eventually she wants to become a licensed clinical therapist, but to accomplish that goal, she needs an advanced degree.

She decided to pursue her master’s in social work at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare while working as a disabilities services coordinator for Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services and raising her son, niece, and nephew on her own. Receiving the Aileen Rockjordan Scholarship has made pursuing her degree a bit less stressful. “I value education, and this financial relief enables me to continue taking care of my family and planning for my son’s future college education,” she says.

Rockjordan ’61 earned her master’s degree at UWM and was a professor in the Department of Social Welfare for 27 years until her retirement in 1992. She established a scholarship through a gift in her will, and since her death in 2013, her fund has provided nine scholarships to graduate students in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare.

“I was always interested in other people,” said Rockjordan in 2004 when she made plans to establish the fund. The Aileen Rockjordan Scholarship supports students with academic merit, financial need, and a commitment to promoting cultural diversity in the delivery of social services.

In 2007, Rockjordan’s close friend Ernestine O’Bee died and, through her will, left an additional gift to the Aileen Rockjordan Scholarship fund. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of Rockjordan and O’Bee, students like Samella Jolly are fulfilling the vision these two women had in mind.



Parent Creates Scholarship for MPS Grads

When her son came to UWM as a music student, Jane, a former computer analyst at UW-Madison, knew very little about UWM or Milwaukee. After just a few years, she was so impressed with this urban university that she began to look for ways to make an impactful gift. This year, through her estate plan, she created a scholarship to help students from Milwaukee go to school at UWM.

Jane visited her son regularly, attended many concerts, and saw firsthand the opportunities that UWM and the city provided for young people, students, and especially young musicians. She was very impressed with the music faculty at the Peck School of the Arts.

“I think Milwaukee is a wonderful city, and UWM is a great asset to it,” she says. “Yet many young people struggle to get a college education.” Jane’s scholarship fund will provide support for graduates of Milwaukee Public Schools who are majoring in music, education, or nursing.

Born and raised in a working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, Jane understood from an early age that her family of nine had limited resources. As a teen, Jane became aware of the economic diversity of Chicago while frequently making her way downtown on the bus. She saw that the relative poverty of many seemed to be related to where they were born in the city. These images stayed with her and helped shape her ideas of giving to others.

After graduating from the University of Illinois with a master’s in physics, Jane worked as a computer scientist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland, and then at Rockefeller University in New York. Eventually she took a position in neuroscience research at UW-Madison, where she spent 30 years designing and implementing computer software used in experiments to study the brain’s relation to the process of hearing. She retired in 2014.

As an academician, Jane has a great appreciation for the value of education, and she was inspired to make a gift that would help people whose opportunities are limited. “This way, I can make a difference to those who call Milwaukee home, and hopefully give something back to a community that has given a lot to my son and other students at UWM.”


Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, One Student-Parent at a Time

Twelve years ago, the Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation approached UWM about a plan to help the Milwaukee community by lifting more families out of poverty. The idea was to establish a program at UWM for low-income students who are raising young children—a demographic that is historically the least likely to graduate from college.

Out of this vision and the Pettit Foundation’s generosity, UWM’s Life Impact Program was born. The program offers student-parents a $5,000 scholarship as well as life coaching, peer mentorship, networking opportunities, family-friendly events, student-parent workshops, and access to resources and emergency funds. The program also reduces the sense of alienation and exclusion that many student-parents experience.

Natalie Reinbold has been with the program since its inception, and she’s personally witnessed the hundreds of lives that have been changed since 2005. “The program literally would not be here if it weren’t for the Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation’s vision and generous support,” she says. “The program’s success led us to receive continued financial support from the Pettit Foundation.”

In total, the Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation has contributed $3.7 million to the Life Impact Program. As of January 2017, the program had served a total of 195 UWM student-parents and their 273 children. The graduation rate of these students is more than 85 percent, and 100 percent either found employment within 6 to 9 months of graduation or sought advanced degrees.

Reinbold says Life Impact scholars depend far less on government benefits to provide their family with their basic household needs. “Scholars and their families experience improved socioeconomic conditions and lower poverty rates,” she adds. “In addition, UWM specifically benefits from the program by ensuring increased graduation and persistence rates among a diverse population. All these factors influence our community in a positive way.”

Margaret Lund, president of the Pettit Foundation, has praised UWM’s Life Impact Program.

“This program affects not only students but also their children and the communities in which these educated families will eventually settle,” Lund says. “We are proud to collaborate with a top research university like UWM in promoting the welfare of families and children in the Milwaukee area.”