UW-Sheboygan County Foundation celebrates 40 years of serving students

Since its inception in the late 1970s, the University of Wisconsin Sheboygan Foundation has earned a spot at the head of the class in blazing the trail for students throughout Sheboygan County to pursue their higher education dreams.

Officially incorporated on Dec. 30, 1977 with its first board meeting held several months later in 1978, this year the UW-Sheboygan Foundation is celebrating 40 years of paving the way for campus building expansion projects, student scholarships and faculty development initiatives.

“Back in the late 1970s, our dean at the time, Dr. Ken Bailey, had a dream to form the UW-Sheboygan Foundation,” UW-Sheboygan Foundation Charter Board Member and Treasurer Gerald Van De Kreeke said. “It was his idea and he saw it through to fruition and here we are 40 years later. Back then, it was one of the first foundations of its kind formed for a two-year campus in the UW-System.”

Since forming four decades ago, the UW-Sheboygan Foundation has raised $6.8 million dollars through community based fundraising events, contributions and investment income.

“We started small with fundraisers like Chicken and All That Jazz and the Wombat Classic Run,” Van De Kreeke said. “Today, we have our golf outing, which now serves as a big fundraiser for us.”

Over the past 40 years, the University of Wisconsin- Sheboygan Foundation has provided over $3.4 million in updates for campus facilities, equipment, marking/outreach and campus activities.

Through its fundraising efforts, the University of Wisconsin Sheboygan Foundation has partially funded the Brotz Science Building, the Acuity Technology Center and the Plastics Engineering Company Center for Engineering Studies.

“The buildings that the foundation has had a hand in bringing to the campus were among the most high-profile projects the foundation has been involved with over the years,” Van De Kreeke said. “The Plastics Engineering Company Center for Engineering Studies has played a key role in bringing a four-year engineering degree option to the UW-Sheboygan campus through a partnership with UW-Platteville.”

To date, the foundation has also helped to generate more than $1.8 million dollars to support student scholarships and internships and cover extended degree costs and support expenses for students, as well as faculty and staff development programs.

“We have distributed a tremendous number of scholarships over the years,” Van De Kreeke said. “Over the past few years, we have been giving out an average of 100 scholarships and a total of $100,000 in scholarship funds each year.”

According to UW-Sheboygan Foundation Executive Director and Development Officer Allyson Olivier, the 15-member foundation board has derived much of its success from its high profile in the community.

“Our foundation board is a working board of Sheboygan County business leaders that is very active and well connected in the community,” Olivier said. “They set a plan of action, talk to people and get things done. They are ambassadors and advocates for our campus and never miss an opportunity to talk about the great things going on at UW-Sheboygan when they are out in the community.

“It has been amazing to work with this board over the past two years,” she said. “The members of the board do an amazing job.”

University of Wisconsin- Sheboygan Foundation Board Member Dr. Tom Ries commended the level of commitment of the Sheboygan County business community in supporting the foundation.

“During my 15-year tenure on the foundation board, I have been struck by the generosity of the businesses and individuals in Sheboygan County,” Ries said. “We have a number of great, locally-owned manufacturers that are committed to keeping their money in the community and making it a great place to live, work and get an education.”

After opening in downtown Sheboygan in 1933, UW-Sheboygan moved to its current location at One University Drive on the west side of Sheboygan in 1964.

Over the years, 13-year UW Sheboygan Foundation Board Member and Past President Elizabeth Braden says the foundation’s commitment to supporting its students and faculty has never wavered.

“UW-Sheboygan is a gem in our community,” Braden said. “It offers students high-quality education at an affordable price, while giving them the opportunity to stay at home and save on housing expenses.”

Above all, the UW-Sheboygan Foundation’s highest priority is providing a multitude of educational opportunities for students.

“Over 50 percent of our student population is comprised of first-generation college students,” Olivier said. “We are providing opportunities to students that may not have gone to college otherwise. Starting out with a strong comfort level with a great student-to-instructor ratio is very important and that is what we offer at UW-Sheboygan.

“Although UW-Sheboygan may be a small school, that does not diminish the size of our students’ dreams,” she said.

For more information on the UW-Sheboygan Foundation, contact UW-Sheboygan Foundation Executive Director and Development Officer Allyson Olivier at Allyson.olivier@uwc.edu or 920-459-6612.

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Edward Jones