A flurry of confetti and resounding cheers from the sold-out crowd at the 125th Pointers Gala greeted Saturday's announcement that the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point had raised more than $41.5 million during the university's first capital campaign.
The "Then, Now and Forever: We Are Point" campaign's goal-shattering grand total was revealed on a banner unfurled by Patterson and select donors at the conclusion of the gala. Billed as the capstone event of Homecoming Weekend, the gala also celebrated UW-Stevens Point's 125th anniversary and the presentation of its Distinguished Alumni Awards.
"This is a purple-letter day," noted UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson, alluding to the university's school color. "It is a day we first dreamed of six years ago, and suddenly, here we are. Together we have ignited a new era in the history of this university."
Over the course of the campaign, 16,000 UW-Stevens Point Bridge Builder donors from every state in the nation pledged their support, doubling the university's endowment in the process. Funds from the campaign go toward student scholarships, as well as the creation of cutting-edge academic programs and endowing department chairs.
This year's Distinguished Alumni Award recipients include:
- Judy Goldsmith, '63, a former National Organization of Women president who served as dean of UW-Fond du Lac and as an English teacher;
- Kathy Kinney, '16, an actress known for playing "Mimi" on "The Drew Carey Show," as the creator the award-winning literacy website MrsP.com, and co-author, with Cindy Ratzlaff, '74, of a women's empowerment book series, "Queen of Your Own Life;" and
- Cheryl Schreier, '79, the now retired first female superintendent of the Mount Rushmore Memorial, with a 40-year career with the National Parks Service.
The 2019 Trailblazer Award went to entrepreneurs and media influencers Jenna, '10, and Drew Kutcher, '09, who have built an online empire with Jenna's popular "Goal Digger" podcast and Drew's "Kutcher Method" fitness site. Delta Dental president Denny Peterson, '78, and his wife, Sharon Dehlinger Peterson, '78, were the recipients of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award for their years of service to their alma mater and the community. Denny will retire this fall after more than 40 years at Delta Dental, and Sharon is a retired schoolteacher.
New this year was the Theron B. Pray Award, named for the school's first president and given for extraordinary service to the university. The award was given to capital campaign co-chairs Lon, '70, and Mary Roberts, longtime supporters of UW-Stevens Point. Honorees for this year's Mary Ann Nigbor Volunteer of the Year Award included all of the alumni and friends who had participated in University Advancement's 125K Service Challenge.
Entertainment at the gala included performances by Broadway star Laura Osnes, who attended UW-Stevens Point in the early-2000s. A two-time Tony Award nominated performer, Osnes was cast as Sandy in the 2007 Broadway revival of "Grease" after winning the reality television show "Grease: You're the One That I Want." Additional credits include the title role in "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella" and the lead in the original musical, "Bandstand."
For more information about UW-Stevens Point's alumni and giving opportunities, go to https://give.uwsp.edu/university-advancement.
UW-Stevens Point's "Then, Now and Forever: We Are Point" capital campaign:
- More than 16,000 donors
- 10,000 new donors
- 91 new scholarship accounts - an increase in 20 percent of scholarships available to students
- 60 new program accounts, including five endowed positions - an increase of 30 percent of these accounts
- $315,000 raised by more than 530 donors during this May's Day of Giving to support UW-Stevens Point scholarships and students
- Established a new major in data analytics through a gift that created of two endowed faculty positions and a continuing partnership with Sentry Insurance
- A total of $41,589,504.20 raised in charitable gifts to the UWSP Foundation, gifts in kind to the university and gifts made to the other university affiliated charitable organizations including the Paper Science Foundation, American Suzuki Foundation and the Friends of Schmeeckle