Stout University Foundation History
It began as an act of faith by a handful of campus visionaries; it grew through the dedication of a widening circle of volunteers; and, it now enjoys the deep respect and appreciation of thousands of its beneficiaries.
Spurred by fresh ideas and long-standing needs, newly-selected president, William J. Micheels wasted no time urging the Stout Alumni Association to form a foundation that could accept tax-deductible donations to Stout. To help organize the Foundation, Micheels brought in John Furlong who became the new organization's first executive director. Furlong hired Lloyd Trent to manage fund-raising aspects. In 1962 Gust Wall headed a group called the Stout Development Associates, Inc. In 1964, he was succeeded by Warren Barberg. With Barberg as president, the young organization changed its name to the Stout State University Foundation, Inc. The first major drive was a three-year $150,000 effort to celebrate the university's Diamond Jubilee.
Lloyd Trent died unexpectedly and was replaced by Jack Wile. His assignment was complicated by an earlier purchase by the Foundation of several farms east of Menomonie that some board members felt held potential for future development as a research and training center that would be affiliated with Stout. Some disagreed and felt the Foundation should directly support university programs and not gamble on long-range development. Andrew J. Schneider, a friend of the university, contributed $50,000 for the initial land purchase. More than 20 years later (and after Wile's death) the Foundation's decision was vindicated with the highly successful development of the Stout Technology Park, a pioneering effort to develop links between education and industry.
Nationwide during the 60's and 70's students were discovering higher education in record numbers. At Stout, a critical push was on to meet growing needs by finding more staff, facilities and equipment. At that time, state government merged Wisconsin State University System with the University of Wisconsin and its campuses. Micheels, with serious health problems, stepped aside in 1971. Robert S. Swanson was hired to succeed Micheels. Foundation assets reached $200,000.
Wile's administrative skills were apparent. He made certain the Foundation and the Alumni Association maintained separate identities and financial independence. He strengthened both organizations through by-laws, close attention to member needs, active boards of directors and an alumni dues structure. He built a system to maintain records for an ever-growing population with increased mobility. Wile died after a battle with cancer and was succeeded by David Williams. In 1982 the Foundation brought Patricia A. Reisinger into the office as assistant director of development and alumni services.
They called it "Dreaming the big dream" when a $2 million campaign was launched by the Foundation entitled Toward Century II. Two years later the university's most ambitious goal was surpassed.
Swanson retired in 1988, but under his leadership the Foundation matured into an organization interested in developing programs that served the university, not just fundraising. Off campus, this new emphasis centered on building meaningful relationships with alumni, industry and other friends of Stout. On campus, the Foundation provided staff with more research and development grants, and students with more scholarship opportunities. As Swanson exited, Foundation assets totaled approximately $2.5 million.
Charles W. Sorensen assumed the Chancellor position in 1988. Sorensen hired Patricia Reisinger to succeed David Williams. Sorensen set very aggressive fundraising goals; the ultimate goal was to raise assets to $10 million by 2000. That goal was more than doubled by 1999. Meanwhile development of the Stout Tech Park was moving ahead. In 1992 the Foundation received its first $1 million gift. Six months later another benefactor donated $1.6 million. With confidence building the Foundation launched a three-year $10 million Fryklund campaign to equip a 65,000 square foot manufacturing center in Fryklund Hall. Robert Cervenka, CEO of Phillips Plastics Corp, and James R. Johnson, former director of physical sciences at 3M, co-chaired the effort. A $1 million anonymous gift launched the drive.
The Fryklund campaign topped its goal by $3 million. Success of the Foundation did not go unnoticed. The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) named the Foundation to its "Circle of Excellence for Education and Fundraising," a highly sought after award by professionals in the field. CASE spoke again the next year acknowledging huge increases in corporate, alumni and parent giving. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram stated Stout was third among UW-System campuses in fund raising, trailing only Madison and Milwaukee.
With cooperation from students, city and county government and the Menomonie School District a $7 million recreation and athletic complex was constructed at the south end of campus in 2001. Don and Nona Williams of Menomonie donated the lead gift toward the complex with the stadium named in their honor. Contributions to this effort are ongoing, willingly accepted and greatly appreciated.
In December of 2001 UW-Stout was named the first university to receive the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Alumni from around the country gathered in Washington DC to share in the celebration as Chancellor Sorensen and the University of Wisconsin-Stout were honored by President Bush.