UW Today

This is an archived article.

May 31, 2007

Giving back: Faculty, staff and retirees contribute to the UW out of their values

News and Information

Each faculty, staff or retiree gift to the UW is a story of relationships — of how people choose to work at the UW because it reflects their values, and how those values are carried out not just in their working days but in the gifts they choose to make.

These gifts often involve long-term or far-sighted commitments, recognizing that the ultimate value of the gifts will be to students who may not be attending the UW for a decade or more.

A few examples:

Karen Erickson, assistant to the dean of the Information School, began “at least five years ago” having small sums deducted from her paycheck to help support a scholarship created in honor of Fred Campbell, the first UW dean of undergraduate education.

“I knew I couldn’t afford to make a sizable donation,” says Erickson, who used to work in the Provost’s Office alongside the Office of Undergraduate Education, “but I knew I could afford the equivalent of a latte a paycheck. Although I never worked directly for Fred, everyone in the office was made to feel as part of his academic ‘family.’ I respected him and what he did immensely.” The scholarship supports students who are the first in their family to attend college. Erickson’s “latte a paycheck” contributions now amount to several hundred dollars.

Nancy Clarke, an academic counselor for the undergraduate program in the Business School, “doesn’t do a whole lot,” she says — except for supporting scholarships in the Educational Opportunity Program, the Business School and making a scholarship program for undergraduate business students a beneficiary in the will she and her husband have drawn up.

Clarke, a 25-year UW employee, began contributing philanthropically to the UW almost from the day she started as an EOP counselor. A UW graduate in sociology, Clarke worked in Wenatchee, her home, after graduation to assess the educational needs of disadvantaged young people in the valley. “It was a life-changing experience,” she says, “making all the theory I’d studied about poverty and racism all too real.” She embarked upon a career path that led to counseling at the UW, where in addition to her work at EOP and the Business School, she also worked in Intercollegiate Athletics.

In the Business School, she monitors the academic performance of students each quarter and works with those struggling to stay afloat. “My interests all tie together. I’ve always enjoyed helping young people overcome obstacles.” In addition to her job, Clarke has volunteered as a mentor for Washington State Achievers Scholars, who typically come from low income families and are often the first in the family to go to college.

Debi Fritz, director of the Special Assistance Office for UW Medicine, and her husband have created an endowed fellowship for students pursuing research or education in brain tumor research. The fellowship is named for her nephew, who is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor in Florida but who has also benefited from consultations by UW physicians. He has been monitored since he was 2 years old when a brain lesion was discovered. Three years later, his physicians noticed that his tumor had started to grow. His family arranged a consultation with the UW Medicine Brain Tumor Board and also by Richard Ellenbogen, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, both of whom confirmed the diagnosis and treatment options proposed by the Florida physicians.

“I took the information to the place I trusted the most to get another opinion,” Fritz says. The boy, now 7, is doing well and enjoying life. When the Faculty-Staff-Retiree Campaign for Students was launched, Fritz and her husband agreed “this was a great way to give back.” They are now making annual donations to this fellowship. Not only that, but Fritz’s brother-in-law, an associate professor at the University of Florida, is promoting the fellowship through the signature line in his office e-mail. “I’ll bet the development office at UF just LOVES that!” Fritz says.

Namura Nkeze, an academic adviser in the Gateway Center, has created a scholarship to support students with financial need who are involved in service to their communities, either formal or informal. “I saw this as a great opportunity to honor my parents, both of whom were involved in their community, helping others in formal and informal ways,” she says.

Nkeze hopes her scholarship helps to offset the costs of higher education for students who themselves want to give back. In a way, the donation is an extension of her day job, in which she helps students clarify their educational goals and discusses with them how they can connect more effectively to the campus and to the community beyond campus.

Tomi and Dean McManus together have been at the UW nearly a century, Dean since 1959 and Tomi for most of the time since 1962. So it’s not surprising that when they began their own version of retirement they chose to make a gift to the UW. “I fell in love with Dean on campus,” says Tomi, an assistant to the dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, “and we worked together for 10 years before we were married. The University has had the greatest influence on our life. We’re based here professionally and personally.”

Dean, who retired as professor of oceanography in 2002, decided that after more than 30 years of teaching he wanted to contribute in a way that prepared graduate students better for their teaching responsibilities. The Dean McManus and Tomilynn Willits McManus Graduate Student Teaching Development Endowment Fund provides support for graduate students in oceanography to attend workshops or meetings that will enhance their teaching skills.

Dean notes that over his career the role of a teacher has evolved from one of exclusively delivering lectures to acting as a mentor and a coach for students often working on collaborative projects. This change is described in his book, Leaving the Lectern.

“When the opportunity arose to help graduate students improve their teaching through a donation that would be matched by the University, it was too good to pass up,” Tomi says. Dean says, “We recognized the opportunity to help in a way that could really make a difference.”

The Faculty-Staff-Retiree Campaign provides for 1:1 matches of donations for endowed gifts of $5,000 to $10,000 that are paid over as long as five years. People can contribute to endowments that are already established, or they can create their own. For more information, see http://uwfoundation.org