The final elements of the Garfield Avenue project on the UW-Eau Claire campus are scheduled to begin in early May to fully complete the redevelopment by the start of the fall semester.
In 2018, the primary entrance and thoroughfares through campus were redesigned into a more pedestrian-friendly mall, including replacement of underground utilities, removal of the Putnam Hall parking lot to make way for a future outdoor classroom, reconfiguring the south end of the footbridge, and the addition of outdoor fireplaces and lounge space.
The final touches come in the form of a multifaceted project that includes a stone and steel gateway marking the entrance to campus, an outdoor classroom overlooking the Chippewa River, and a stone-and-water feature. These last elements, totaling over $1 million, are privately funded by lead benefactors Jon and Megan Stowe and will complement the already transformational renovations to Garfield Avenue.
“The Stowe gift will greatly enhance the Garfield Avenue redevelopment project by adding iconic features that will inspire current and future generations of Blugolds and visitors to 'Wisconsin’s most beautiful campus,'" says Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations.
Jon and Megan Stowe of Waukesha have made a generous commitment through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation to fund the construction and installation of an arched gateway that will serve as an iconic image of the university and denote the entrance to lower campus. The Stowe Gateway will incorporate stone benches and a 14-foot archway that will display the university’s name at the campus’ "front door." Careful consideration was given to the size and dimension of the gateway to ensure the archway is tall enough to accommodate emergency vehicles.
The second major addition is a water feature outside Schofield Hall that connects the main campus mall to the Chippewa River. The feature incorporates key characteristics of the Chippewa River such as boulders, a rock-water walking path for pedestrian traffic and locally sourced granite. The rock is Aqua Grantique stone hand-selected from the Krukowski Stone Company quarry near Mosinee.
The inscription introducing the water feature will read, “Stowe Family Fountain: A family tribute to the many exceptional educational opportunities provided to three generations of the Stowe family by the University of Wisconsin System. Jon and Megan Stowe.”
The Stowes' generosity also supports additions to the new outdoor classroom at the entrance of Putnam Park, ensuring that area’s resources can be fully utilized to provide exceptional outdoor education experiences.
“When we envisioned how the campus could look after the Garfield Avenue redesign, the project called out for signature elements that would cement UW-Eau Claire’s reputation as Wisconsin’s most beautiful campus,” said Chancellor James Schmidt. “We are deeply grateful that Jon and Megan Stowe saw the potential of what could be achieved through their philanthropy. The gateway and water feature will become iconic images to complement the bridge as those aspects of the Blugold experience alumni will cherish.”
Jon Stowe graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1967. His daughter, Krystyn, also attended UW-Eau Claire. Jon is a retired bank executive who had a distinguished 30-year career including international banking in London, a bank presidency in Waukesha and most recently bank mergers and acquisitions for what is now U.S. Bancorp. Jon served on the UW-Eau Claire Foundation board of directors and investment committee for several years. He also served on the board of Carroll University.
Megan earned her bachelor’s degree from UW-La Crosse and her master’s degree from the University of Indianapolis. She is an accomplished physical therapist specializing in orthopedics, with her own private practice named Keystone Physical Therapy in Brookfield, Wisconsin. She also served as the physical therapist for the Milwaukee Bucks for 16 years. Jon and Megan now reside at Genesee Creek Farm, their horse farm in Waukesha County.
Several members of both Jon's and Megan’s families attended UW System institutions. They value the impact that the UW System, and UW-Eau Claire in particular, has had on their lives and what they have been able to accomplish.
"We are honored to have this opportunity to support a project that enhances the already beautiful UW-Eau Claire campus,” the Stowes said. “This gift is given in appreciation of the excellent educational opportunities provided to us and three generations of our family by UW-Eau Claire and the entire UW System. We believe that the gateway project is a welcoming symbol that represents the start of a lifetime of learning for all who pass underneath the arch."
Top photo caption: An artist's rendering depicts the Stowe Gateway to be built at the Garfield Avenue entrance to the UW-Eau Claire lower campus.