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Foundation board accelerates funding for global learning initiatives

Dan and Martha Wenzel
Martha and Dan Wenzel '82 recently established a scholarship for global learning.

RELEASED: Feb. 24, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — The board members of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation have jump-started a fund to support global learning opportunities for students with its own seed money.

The board members are in the third year of a three-year challenge to raise a total of $125,000 for study abroad and domestic immersion experiences. The members collectively have given $75,000 toward that challenge. According to Casey Sylla, board chairman, in 2009 $25,000 was raised within eight months, with 75 percent participation among the 50 board members. An additional $50,000 was raised in 2010 with 95 percent of the board and 100 percent of the Foundation staff working with board participating. The board's goal for the end of 2011 is to raise an additional $50,000. In addition, all of these gifts are being matched by other UW-Eau Claire donors who take up the cause.

"The fundamental belief among board members on the importance of a geographically dispersed, multicultural learning experience at UW-Eau Claire has been so strong that not only has it encouraged the Foundation to provide financial support, but virtually all board members have made their own personal financial commitments as well," Sylla said.

One of UW-Eau Claire's major goals is to provide international and multicultural immersion opportunities for all students in order to produce graduates who are engaged citizens of the world. This commitment to global learning, diversity and inclusion requires a curriculum capable of creating transformational experiences and funding to provide the resources to do so.

The Foundation's board of directors challenged itself to accelerate financial support for this initiative at the 2009 spring meeting. A goal was set to raise enough funds over the next three years to help at least 50 students participate in international or domestic immersion experiences. The resulting Global Awareness Scholarship initiative has already touched the lives of more than 200 students.

The board's challenge led to six new scholarships specifically for students planning to study abroad.

To date, global awareness funds have been invested in:

  • Students participating in study abroad and immersion experiences for 2010.

  • Members of The Singing Statesmen who performed in Argentina over the 2009-10 winter break.

  • Students participating in the Civil Rights Pilgrimage in January and March 2010.

  • Nursing students who will volunteer over spring break 2011 at the Peter Christensen Health Center for the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

  • Nursing students volunteering at various homeless shelters in Washington, D.C., over spring break 2011.

  • Upcoming immersion trips for women's studies and education majors.

In addition to the general global awareness fund, some donors have chosen to establish their own scholarships to promote global learning. Individuals may choose to endow a scholarship, specify additional criteria for applicants or target certain majors or programs of study.

Dan and Martha Wenzel of Franksville are longtime benefactors of UW-Eau Claire. Dan Wenzel graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1982, and Martha received her degree at UW-Madison after attending UW-Eau Claire for three years.

Their interest in global learning opportunities — and their subsequent establishment of the Wenzel Global Awareness Scholarship — comes from their international business experience as well as family relationships. Dan Wenzel has spent more than 22 years with S.C. Johnson & Son, a global consumer products company, and is responsible for much of the company's international tax matters.

"Having traveled to more than 40 countries, we understand that exposure to people and cultures worldwide greatly influences our ability to contribute at the highest level to our employers and society as a whole," Dan Wenzel said.

The Wenzels' oldest daughter studied in Madrid for a semester, so the couple also saw firsthand the benefits of her international experience.

Another new fund, the Bruce and Marlene Jannusch Scholarship, was established to provide global awareness opportunities specifically for majors and minors in philosophy and religious studies. It was started by Marlene Jannusch in memory of her husband, Dr. Bruce Jannusch, professor emeritus of philosophy and religious studies at UW-Eau Claire.

For more information about this and other scholarships available through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, visit the website or contact Kimera Way, Foundation executive director, at waykk@uwec.edu.

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RD/DW

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