Legacy Empowers Women in Economics

Economics classWhen her husband died, Margery Amundsen (’56 BS L&S) knew she wasn’t going to spend his insurance money or stocks on herself. She discovered she could put the funds to better use right away with a scholarship in the Department of Economics.

“I wanted to help women who were majoring in the field,” she says, remembering a time when she was the only woman economics major on campus. “It felt like I was under a microscope. If I wanted to cut class, it was pretty obvious I wasn’t there,” she said with a laugh.

When Amundsen entered the corporate world after graduation, “women had a terrible time getting decent jobs,” she says. “I could see the handwriting on the wall, and I thought the federal government would give me a fair shake.”

She credits her UW-Madison education for landing a position with the Social Security Administration. She worked hard, earned promotions and left after five years to start a family. “As my daughters got older, I worked part-time for small businesses, and that was rewarding,” she says.

Always fond of what she calls the “great state university,” Amundsen says, “I learned a lot at Wisconsin. I loved going to a big school. I loved the independence.” She also remembers how a small loan had a big impact on her college career. “One semester I had insufficient money to pay for school expenses,” she says. “I needed to get permission from the Dean of Women to delay taking a course so I could work more hours. She surprised me by writing me out a check on the spot, and she said that came from a special fund donors made available to her.”

After years of making annual gifts to help students afford the UW-Madison, Amundsen made a direct transfer from her husband’s estate to establish a scholarship in economics. “I had no idea that it had gotten so costly for Wisconsin residents to attend the University,” she says. “I think it would really take a tremendous effort to get through school these days without some kind of help. I put myself through the University, but if tuition hadn’t been so low, I don’t know if I could have made it.”

Amundsen is considering further estate gifts to the University. “My two daughters are both college graduates and are doing very well,” she said. “I won’t have a really large estate, but when I die, I would like to add a sizeable portion of it to my scholarship fund.”