Nearly 350 donors, students, family members, friends, faculty and staff attended UWM’s largest ever scholarship reception, held this month in the Student Union.
“This annual reception is an opportunity to show appreciation for our donors and to honor the hard work of our students,” said Patricia Borger, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations. “It’s truly inspiring to hear why our donors choose to give and what an impact their generosity has on our students. We hope this event challenges students to one day support scholarships for another generation.”
In academic year 2016-17, UWM distributed more than $4.2 million in donor-supported scholarships to nearly 1,500 students. This was 3 percent more than the previous year. More than 80 percent of UWM students receive some sort of financial aid.
UWM Foundation Chair Jacquelyn Fredrick emceed the Nov. 2 program, explaining that the UWM Foundation manages the philanthropic donations that support the university’s mission. She encouraged students to one day become involved as alumni volunteers.
Chancellor Mark Mone spoke about the importance of scholarships to UWM. Student success is a top priority of the university’s recently announced $200 million fundraising campaign. More than 54 percent of the $173.1 million raised so far is earmarked for student success, which includes scholarships. The other campaign priorities are research and community engagement.
Mone lauded alumnus D.A. Leonard, who has started three scholarships for students at UWM. His scholarships support graduate students in the Department of Anthropology in the College of Letters & Science, students who are advocates of LGBT right, and film students in the Peck School of the Arts.
Mary McAndrews, who has endowed a scholarship in the School of Information Studies, said that she gives because as a teacher for 33 years, she believes education is the great equalizer and information studies represents the source of all knowledge.
Students Ameralys Correa (College of Engineering & Applied Science), John McCune (Lubar School of Business and Honors College), and Grace Barlow (School of Freshwater Sciences) each shared their stories about what receiving a scholarship has meant to them.
In addition to these speakers, a video featured the stories of sisters Mary and Teresa Dominiak, alumnae who have created scholarships for students in Honors College and Nursing, respectively; Marquis Johnson, a track star whose scholarship took him from the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation to the School of Education and the Panther Athletics program; Kathryn Henry, a Peck School of the Arts alumna who is now in graduate school at The Juilliard School; and Langston Verdin, a Zilber School of Public Health graduate student who balances his studies with working full time and raising his children.
This event allows faculty to reconnect with former students who have become scholarship donors. For example, K Vairavan, professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer science, was excited to spend time with former student Ken Alix, who is now retired from Intel and contributing to a scholarship in the College of Engineering.
Schools with the highest turnout were the Lubar School of Business (11 donors and 57 students), the School of Education (10 donors and 31 students), and the College of Engineering & Applied Science (15 donors and 19 students). Also participating were the College of Health Sciences, College of Nursing, Graduate School, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, Honors College, Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, Panther Athletics, Peck School of the Arts, School of Architecture & Urban Planning, School of Freshwater Sciences, the School of Information Studies, and the UWM Alumni Association. Supporters of university-wide scholarships also attended the reception. The College of Letters & Science hosts a separate event. Donors who participate in the reception have either established an endowed scholarship or contribute to an existing scholarship fund. Many have also included UWM in their wills, stating a desire to establish a scholarship — or grow an existing fund — through their estate.