Impressive support: Foundation exceeds Giving Day goal with pledges topping $370,000

Gifts from industry partners provide an additional $70,000 to help students
​Jerry Poling | January 11, 2024

The Stout University Foundation set its sights high for the fifth annual Giving Day at UW-Stout.

With a goal of $250,000 — $100,000 more than the previous year’s goal — the Foundation asked members of the university community to step up to support Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University.

They did, with 802 gifts and pledges totaling $370,289 on Giving Day, Nov. 28, and soon after. 

“This year’s Giving Day triumph at Stout was nothing short of spectacular,” said Jocelyn Matheny, the Foundation’s annual giving officer. “It was a vibrant tapestry of alumni, employees, friends and corporate partners joining forces in a collective celebration of generosity.”

Students Braeden Lange and Maria Winkelman, along with Blaze, the Blue Devil mascot, thank those who supported UW-Stout on Giving Day. The students work for Blue Devil Productions in the Involvement Center on campus.
Students Braeden Lange and Maria Winkelman, along with Blaze, the Blue Devil mascot, thank those who supported UW-Stout on Giving Day. The students work for Blue Devil Productions / UW-Stout

UW-Stout’s Giving Day, also called Stout Gives Back, took place on the National Day of Giving that is celebrated annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. 

Matheny thanked the many donors, more than half of whom were alumni, for “making a lasting impact.” Gifts still can be made online or by contacting the Foundation.

The largest gift of the day was $25,000 by OEM Fabricators of Woodville for the Automation Advancement Fund. It will be used to support the future of manufacturing in related programs at UW-Stout, including robots, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and analytics.

OEM also is supporting manufacturing automation with a gift of $30,000 for a new scholarship, which is not part of the Giving Day total. It will help students who are majoring in engineering and the new automation leadership program at UW-Stout.

Student Mai Nou Vang, a member of the women’s lacrosse team, promotes Giving Day at UW-Stout.
Student Mai Nou Vang, a member of the women’s lacrosse team, promotes Giving Day at UW-Stout. / UW-Stout

The OEM gifts were coordinated through OEM President Kelly Ingli.

OEM’s Automation Advancement Fund was one of seven challenge gifts on Giving Day. Others were:

  • Blue Devil Athletics, $32,000, sponsored by Athletics alumni Dale Evans, 1973; Joe Pleshek, 1991; Craig Sandbulte, 1998; supporter Paul McNally and an anonymous donor. The gifts will be used for various initiatives and improvements: weight room, golf room, baseball field, team equipment, spring team trips and track program video display scoreboard. Other gifts were made specifically for women’s programs.
  • StoutPromise Scholarship, $22,000, sponsored by the Foundation Board of Directors and alum Dave Rasmussen, 1985
  • Student Emergency Fund, $15,000, sponsored by Chancellor Katherine Frank and her husband, Joe Dvorsky.
  • Learning Environments Fund, $10,000, sponsored by Glendalí Rodríguez, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. Support will be used for priority projects in labs and classrooms across campus, including equipment and technology needed to support the polytechnic experience.
  • Study Abroad Scholarships, $3,000, sponsored by former professors Robert and Beverly Spinti, who also are alumni, Robert in 1954 and 1957 and Beverly in 1954 and 1976.
  • Helping Hand Food+ Pantry Fund, $1,500, sponsored by former professor Phil McGuirk, a 1976 alum; and former Foundation directors Pat Reisinger, a 1961 and 1967 alum, and Dave Williams. More than $6,200 was raised. Also, faculty and staff from 34 departments held donation drives and collected more than 2,000 items to support students in need.

Power Hour Challenges totaling $10,000 were sponsored by Marilyn Krause Leccese, a 1974 graduate, and her husband, Rick. They picked the Student Emergency Fund, Learning Environments, Fostering Success and StoutPromise Scholarships.

Student Amanda Giesen, a member of the women’s basketball team, promotes Giving Day at UW-Stout.
Student Amanda Giesen, a member of the women’s basketball team, promotes Giving Day at UW-Stout. / UW-Stout

The four hourlong challenges, held for the first time, “injected fresh energy” into the event, Matheny said. “It was a joy to watch donors pouring support into the areas close to their hearts. Giving Day is the perfect opportunity to give to what you care about.” 

Although UW-Stout is part of the Universities of Wisconsin and receives public funding, additional support is vital to support students’ higher education journeys.

“At Stout the significance of Giving Day and year-round philanthropy cannot be overstated. While we are a publicly funded institution, we rely on the generosity of our community to bridge gaps that state funding might leave,” Matheny said.

In September, the Foundation awarded $1.2 million in scholarships to 540 students. 

“Through scholarships, emergency funding and program support, we alleviate the financial strain on students, ensuring they not only excel academically but also thrive in all facets of their university journey,” she said.

Dale Evans and Anna Evans Bartz, front row center, of EVCO Plastics meet with students in UW-Stout’s plastics engineering lab after donating $100,000 to support projects that improve sustainability within the industry.
EVCO CEO and alum Dale Evans, center in blazer, meets with students in the plastics engineering lab. / UW-Stout

Additional fall gift by Evans/EVCO Plastics

Evans’ support for the Blue Devil Athletics challenge fund was in addition to a $40,000 fall gift by EVCO Plastics of DeForest. EVCO is owned and operated by Evans, the CEO. 

The gift will support the university’s plastics engineering program and student research to improve sustainability in the industry. The company also donated $100,000 in fall 2022 for similar sustainability research.

Previously announced this fall was a gift of $5 million, the largest in university history, by Dallas Pankowski, an alum, and his wife, Edye. It will be used to enhance renovation of the Recreation Complex.

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