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UW-Stout News Story

Couple makes significant commitment to UW-Stout

December 20, 2011

Neither Kathie Blankenburg nor her husband Brian graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stout. But the couple hasn’t let that get in the way of becoming generous supporters of Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University.

“We are so impressed with the concept of UW-Stout, the employment placement rate and what people do with these degrees,” Kathie Blankenburg said in explaining why she and her husband have made a significant estate commitment to UW-Stout, on top of their on-going commitment to fund a scholarship program. They worked with Alumni Association Director Sue Pittman on the details.

“We are very appreciative of the generosity of Kathie and Brian in providing future support for student scholarships at UW-Stout in their estate plans,” said Mark Parsons, vice chancellor for University Advancement and Marketing, which includes the Stout University Foundation. “Their philanthropy will have a great impact on our ability to serve future generations of students and also will inspire other friends of UW-Stout to participate in its proud tradition of success by leaving a legacy for this great university,” he said.

Blankenburg said she and her husband, who live in Madison, have followed UW-Stout’s transformation under Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen, including the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award that the university won in 2001, and its 2007 polytechnic designation. Blankenburg’s career was in sales and marketing, while her husband worked in the manufacturing side of food service.

“I look at this (estate commitment) as an opportunity to sell UW-Stout and what they have done with their foundation,” Blankenburg said. “My father would be just stunned.”

Her father?

It turns out that Blankenburg, although she received a degree elsewhere, essentially was raised as a UW-Stout student. Her father, Herman Arneson, taught in the sciences at the university from 1946 to 1976, and her mother, Margaret, taught briefly before going to work for the Menomonie School District. A scholarship fund in the memory of Herman and Margaret Arneson supports assistance for applied science majors with a GPA of 3.0 or higher who have demonstrated leadership in student or civic activities.

Even after retiring from UW-Stout, Blankenburg said, her father continued to stay involved with the university through the foundation, the fundraising arm of the institution.

“My father was instrumental in starting the foundation,” she said, and served as treasurer for many years. Blankenburg said her father was a good investor and read the Wall Street Journal until the day he died at the age of 95.

Blankenburg said both of her parents believed strongly in the value of a college education and in making a difference in the lives of people, especially those who were first-generation college students.

Blankenburg said her mother developed a college preparatory course for the Menomonie school district. “She exposed kids to many things they never would have been exposed to,” she said.

Her father, Blankenburg said, “believed that every female should have a college degree and earn her own money,” a philosophy that wasn’t widely held in society early in Arneson’s teaching career.

For all of these reasons, Blankenburg said, she and her husband feel strongly about making a significant estate commitment to help other students attend UW-Stout.

“We have to have a lot more of what UW-Stout is doing,” she concluded.

More information on the Stout University Foundation is available at

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