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UW-Eau Claire Alumni
Make $4.5 Million Gift
MAILED: April 24, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — Carl Karlgaard would be proud. During the 1950s and 1960s, he was a carpenter helping to build several buildings on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus. He probably never dreamed his son would one day contribute to that same university its largest financial gift ever.
Carl died in 1973, but what he helped build with his own hands is now ensured a stronger future. Carl's son and daughter-in-law, David and Marilyn Karlgaard, have committed $4.5 million - the largest gift announced to date by a Wisconsin public regional university - to UW-Eau Claire's Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence campaign.
The campaign has been in its quiet phase since July 2000, and its public phase, along with the overall campaign goal and the amount raised so far, will officially be announced Friday evening at an on-campus kickoff event. Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence is UW-Eau Claire's first comprehensive fund-raising campaign and the largest such effort by a UW System regional institution.
The Karlgaards, both natives of western Wisconsin and both of whom attended UW-Eau Claire, have established a $4 million charitable trust designated for the university. In addition, they will contribute $500,000 over the next five years to establish the Karlgaard Excellence in Computer Science Program.
"We are thrilled at the kindness and thoughtfulness of the Karlgaards for making the decision to give back to their alma mater," said Carole Halberg, UW-Eau Claire Foundation president. "This is our first multi-million-dollar campaign gift, and it is a transformational gift for both the computer science department and the university. It is also an indication of the strong level of support we have from our alumni as we approach the public phase of our campaign."
"We are very grateful to the Karlgaards for their generosity," said Andrew Phillips, computer science department chair. "This gift will have a lasting impact on our department. We share their aspirations for our department and this institution. We will do everything possible to meet, and hopefully exceed, their expectations."
David Karlgaard, a Rice Lake native, graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1967 with degrees in math and physics. He is co-founder, CEO and president of PEC Solutions Inc., an Internet technology consulting firm headquartered in Fairfax, Va., and an adjunct professor at The George Washington University. Marilyn Karlgaard, a Viroqua native, attended UW-Eau Claire from 1965-68. She is a retired human resource administrator.
"Education has always been important in our lives," said David Karlgaard, who went on to earn two master's degrees and a doctorate following graduation from UW-Eau Claire, while Marilyn Karlgaard earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree. "It's the way anybody can rise up and be successful in life."
David Karlgaard cited an attachment to UW-Eau Claire as one reason behind the decision to make the gift to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.
"The campus there was a big part of our lives when we were that age," he said, noting that he and Marilyn met and fell in love while students at UW-Eau Claire. "Also, my professional career got off to a great start there."
Karlgaard said two factors led to the decision to direct the gift to the computer science program. First, the computer science department, which did not exist when he attended UW-Eau Claire, has established a strong program, he said. "Adding support there can take the department to new levels of greatness. We'd like to be a part of that."
Second, computer science played a significant role in his education and career. "Computer science has been so important in my professional career," he said. "Every job and educational experience I've had has been related to computer science in some way. I feel a responsibility to support the field."
The Karlgaards' gift will provide support to the computer science program in three main areas, Phillips said. First, the Karlgaard Excellence in Computer Science Faculty Award Fund provides financial incentives to faculty. "What is especially unique about this incentive is that the Karlgaards wanted to make it clear that excellence based on teamwork and collaborative efforts is to be valued most highly," Phillips said. "They chose not to reward any single faculty member with an endowed chair the way many institutions do, but instead to reward any number of faculty who succeed in their pursuit of excellence in computer science education."
Second, the Karlgaard Computer Science Scholarship Fund will provide scholarships for students who maintain high academic achievement and who collaborate with faculty on computer science research that results in scholarly publications. Karlgaard Scholars will be eligible for up to four years of full tuition and fees support.
Third, the gift challenges the computer science department to seek external funding for laboratory hardware and software. The Karlgaard Computer Laboratory Fund provides funds for computer lab support in the form of a one-to-one match with support obtained from external sources, such as private industry and government grants.
"Supporting a high-quality computer science program is an expensive proposition," Phillips said, "and the Karlgaards have established a means for us to maintain that quality by doing what we already know we must do: partner with local industry."
Phillips said those in the computer science department are excited by the challenge put before them through the Karlgaards' gift. "The Karlgaards have set specific goals for us, all based on providing excellence in computer science education," he said. "We have an opportunity to do what we most want to do, and that is to press forward as leaders in computer science education by creating the most dynamic, exciting and cutting-edge computer science program around."
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 24, 2002