Ann Hoyt is a professor of consumer science in the School of Human Ecology. In 2008, as chair of the Faculty Senate’s University Committee, she and Robert Mathieu headed up the Faculty-Staff Great People Scholarship Campaign. She talks about that experience and the emotional rewards of supporting UW-Madison students.
Faculty and staff members helped kick-start the Great People effort, generating more than $2 million in gifts and matches from the UW Credit Union and UW Foundation. In the 2012-13 academic year, 604 students are receiving Great People Scholarships, part of financial aid packages that often include student and family contributions, grants, loans and offers of work-study employment. Even more students will receive the scholarships this year.
How did you become involved with Great People?
The University Committee did a survey about the faculty’ desires on campus. One thing they were concerned about was the lack of economic diversity among our students. I thought about what we could do, then went to the University Committee and said, “Let’s start a scholarship campaign.”
(UW Foundation Vice President) Marion Brown and I were talking, and she said this was right in line with this idea the Foundation had for Great People. So we combined the two ideas, and the Faculty-Staff Great People Campaign was born. Foundation Vice President Martha Taylor, Bob Mathieu and I organized a campaign committee that worked very hard making presentations to many departments and units around the campus. The union representatives, faculty, academic and classified staff all got involved in leadership for the campaign. I was most appreciative of the UW Foundation’s commitment of staff time and resources to implement the campaign.
You played a role with the UW Credit Union getting on board with Great People. (The UW Credit Union made a major outright gift and matched Great People contributions for three months.) How did that come about?
I have been on the board of the UW Credit Union for many years and was the board chair for many years. We were talking about ways the credit union could make a difference in the community and create an even stronger connection with campus. The UW Credit Union supporting the Faculty-Staff Great People Campaign seemed to make a lot of sense. Marion was on the board, too, and we met with CEO and President Paul Kundert, who loved the idea. He came up with the idea of the UW Credit Union matching gifts for several months. That total was then matched by the UW Foundation. It was a wonderful contribution on their part.
You made presentations to many groups of staff and faculty about Great People. How was that experience?
I had a lot of fun doing that. The faculty and staff are very interested in students having access to the university, particularly because this was a need-based scholarship and they knew it was going to go to a different pool of students than those who often get merit-based awards. The other thing was they were so astounded that anybody from the Faculty Senate or University Committee was interested in what they thought and the impact they could have. Several of the committee members went all over campus.
Have you heard from any student recipients?
Yes! As this process unfolded, my husband (Bill) was retiring, and we set up a scholarship to honor that. That fund has grown, and we’ve heard from about a dozen students. We’ve gotten letters thanking us. Some of the students are here in the School of Human Ecology. One is in this department (consumer science). I’m delighted, and Bill is so thrilled that we have this scholarship and that because of it young people are coming to UW-Madison who might not be able to afford it otherwise.
How would you rate the experience of setting up a Great People Scholarship?
It’s probably one of the best things we’ve done. It’s tremendously rewarding. You can see that I’m smiling. The rewards continue because students get the scholarships each year. And people can still make Great People gifts today to support students in the future.
The gifts that are still coming in make me proud of our faculty and staff. When I look at my career at UW-Madison, this is one of the most satisfying things that has happened.
What also warmed my heart was that this faculty-staff campaign took place at a time when no one was getting any raises. The feeling for the students was so strong that they gave even with those circumstances, and many are giving to this day.