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Family of former UWSP student increases student veteran scholarship

March 13, 2023
John and Rita Canning
John and Rita Canning

Education and family are at the heart of John and Rita Canning’s philanthropic legacy. Those values are integral to the couple’s most recent gift to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

The Cannings have pledged $100,000 in support of the Thomas E. Meiers Memorial Scholarship. The fund was established in honor of Rita Canning’s brother, who died in an automobile accident during his senior year at UW-Stevens Point in 1964.

The scholarship originated in 1965 with money raised by members of Vets 550, the student organization for which Thomas Meiers served as president. Every year, two student-veterans are awarded scholarships, based on scholastic achievement and other personal qualifications. More than 40 student veterans have benefited.

“We wanted the Thomas E. Meiers Memorial Scholarship to go on forever, in perpetuity,” Rita Canning said.

“The best thing you can do for any young person is make sure they get a good education,” said John Canning, cofounder and chairman of private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners. “Veterans have already given so much. Why not make their getting an education a little easier?”

The Cannings have helped many students achieve their educational goals, notably in the inner-city of greater Chicago, where they live. Their support of at-risk individuals also extends to funding programs for women and children facing domestic abuse.

“On behalf of the UW-Stevens Point community, I want to acknowledge the generosity and foresight John and Rita Canning have shown in making this gift,” said William Broussard, vice chancellor for University Advancement and CEO of the UWSP Foundation. “Their faith in the university’s ability to help student-veterans achieve their full potential, in Thomas’ memory, is well-placed and most gratifying.”