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UW-Eau Claire Foundation reports record fundraising year

August 9, 2013

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation received more than $9 million — the largest annual amount received in Foundation history — during its recently completed fiscal year.

Power of Possible campaign logoNew gifts received during 2012-13 but not pledged in previous years were counted toward the $60 million goal of the Foundation's Power of Possible Centennial Campaign in support of people, programs and places at UW-Eau Claire. The campaign, announced last September, has raised $30.5 million so far and will run through Dec. 31, 2016, during the university's centennial year.

"What wonderful news for a new chancellor to hear so soon after arriving at this great university," said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt, who began serving as chancellor July 1. "In my short time here, I've seen daily how our students, alumni, current and retired faculty and staff, and friends in the community all give generously of their time, talent and treasure to support the good work that happens here. My sincere thanks go out to all who've been a part of making the past year such a huge success for the UW-Eau Claire Foundation — and consequently, for our students."

The $9 million received between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, was $3 million more than the Foundation's previous record fundraising total in 2003-04. The successful year can be attributed in large part to the realization of two major estate gifts: $3 million (of an estimated expected total of $4.3 million) from the trust of Lt. Col. George L. Simpson Jr. and $1.5 million from the estate of James and Anne Ramsey, said Kimera Way, Foundation president.

The Ramsey gift made possible a first for the Foundation: a permanently endowed faculty chair in UW-Eau Claire's College of Arts and Sciences, Way said. The gift will support the Oliver M. Ramsey Endowed Chair, a senior faculty position in biomedical science, as part of UW-Eau Claire's collaborative focus on health care careers and education.

James and Anne Ramsey's gift was made in memory of James Ramsey's brother, U.S. Navy Lt. Oliver Marion Ramsey, a Fairchild native and 1933 UW-Eau Claire graduate who later graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II and died in battle in 1942. Anne Ramsey died in 2009, and James Ramsey passed away in April 2012.

"We are most grateful and humbled by the tremendous generosity of so many who are investing in this great university," said JoAnne Brandes, chair of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation board of directors and a 1975 UW-Eau Claire graduate. "What is especially gratifying is to see the long-term plans of great friends such as George Simpson and James and Anne Ramsey come to fruition. Their thoughtful considerations years ago are making possible tremendous opportunity for UW-Eau Claire today and well into the future. What a great legacy of those who are departed from us. Their gifts also illustrate the importance of including in one's estate planning designations for your favorite philanthropic causes."

Way said the fundraising results of the past fiscal year represent continued investments in the university's people and programs — and particularly in academics. While the Ramsey chair directly supports faculty, the Simpson gift has created endowed funds in athletics and the department of geography and anthropology, Way said. Lt. Col. George L. Simpson Jr. was the son of Col. George L. Simpson Sr., one of UW-Eau Claire's first faculty members, and Marie (Stannard) Simpson, a member of the university's first graduating class in 1917.

Also included in last year's fundraising total was a $270,000 gift from UW-Eau Claire alumnus Ralph Duxbury, which is a portion of his more than $1 million pledge to support several university programs. His gift established UW-Eau Claire's first endowed fund for faculty success, the Duxbury Biology Faculty Success Fund. Duxbury, an Eleva native and 1943 graduate of UW-Eau Claire who worked as a parasitologist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research outside Washington, D.C., for more than 30 years, passed away in January.

Way also noted that a major gift from Tom and Jeannie Flesch of Columbus, Ohio, will fully fund a new main university gateway, which is part of the university's campus master plan to create distinguishable gateway entrances to campus. The main gateway project will incorporate a new campus visitor center, Way said. The Flesches are married UW-Eau Claire alumni who met while attending the university in the 1970s.

Many of the major gifts received were in support of student scholarships — either new or existing ones, Way said. Duxbury's estate gift made possible the full endowment of UW-Eau Claire's Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholarship program when combined with a number of other endowed WAES funds that have been established over the years, she said.

Blugold Promise Scholarships, which support students with financial need, continued to be a favorite gift designation for donors during 2012-13, and donors also embraced the university commitment to global awareness and supported scholarships for students participating in study abroad and domestic cultural immersion experiences, Way said.

The Foundation also benefited from the generosity of those who made gifts-in-kind, such as the jazz music collection donated in part by Edward "Pete" Petersen, a big-band leader from Arlington, Texas, Way said. The collection, now named the John L. Buchholz Jazz Library and housed in Special Collections at UW-Eau Claire's McIntyre Library for use by music educators and students, is one of the nation's largest collections of charts and recordings by many of the biggest names in jazz.

"Virtually every area of campus was touched in one way or another by the generosity of the nearly 12,300 donors who made gifts to the Foundation in 2012-13," Way said. "Since the announcement of the Centennial Campaign in September, many of our longtime friends and donors already have responded generously to the campaign's focus on the 'Power of Possible.' Our three pillars of the campaign are people, programs and places, and we are so pleased that our donors are embracing all three areas and giving so generously in support of major priorities for the university."

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