Studers expand scholarships, opportunities for many Craig, Parker grads
Students at Craig and Parker high schools were alerted before Christmas of the new scholarships available to attend UW-Whitewater, officials said. Those who still want to apply should contact their counselors, but they should do so soon because they must be accepted to UW-W and submit their applications by Feb. 1.
The application requires two letters of recommendation from high school teachers or employers, an original essay demonstrating qualifications, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the Janesville Promise Fund scholarship application.
The scholarships are offered only to Craig and Parker students, not to students at the school district's three charter schools that graduate students. Janesville natives already attending college are not eligible.
JANESVILLE A $1 million gift announced Tuesday is intended to give Janesville "a shot in the arm" by boosting higher education opportunities for its high school graduates.
A Florida couple with ties to Janesville are donating $1 million to start a scholarship fund for graduates of Janesville Craig and Parker high schools.
Scholarship winners are required to attend nearby UW-Whitewater.
The donors are businessman Quint Studer and his wife, Rishy Studer, both of whom attended UW-W. The couple own homes in Janesville and Pensacola, Fla., and have family in Janesville.
"We all know that Janesville, not unlike a lot of other communities, is facing some hard economic times, and the unfortunate reality with that is there are a lot of students who would not be able to realize their dreams of a college education had it not been for the generosity of the Studers and other people who support our students," said Parker Principal Chris Laue at a news conference held at Craig High.
The grants will be $1,000 to $5,000 a year, renewable for a total of four years of a college education.
The scholarships will put a dent in the cost of attending UW-Whitewater, where in-state tuition is $7,195.
UW-W Chancellor Richard Telfer said about $50,000 would be available each year for at least six years.
The number of scholarships awarded will depend on the scholarship committee, but Telfer said if all the awards in a particular year were for $2,500, then 20 students would receive scholarships. If that's the average, then 80 would be receiving scholarships by the fourth year.
If two students are about equal in grade point average and other measures, then the scholarship committee will consider the students' financial need, Loftus said.
Students with more need would get larger scholarships, while families with more resources would see less, officials said.
The Studers on Monday announced a gift of $1 million for Pensacola residents to attend Pensacola State College or the University of West Florida, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
Quint Studer is the founder of Studer Group, a health care consulting company based in Gulf Breeze, Fla. In October, he sold a portion of the company to a growth equity firm.
Kate Canfield Loftus, director of development for UW-W, was asked why the Studers wanted give so many scholarships so fast, instead of giving fewer and extending the life of the gift.
"They wanted it to have a powerful impact on the Janesville community right now. They felt that Janesville needed the shot in the arm in a big way right now," Loftus said.
Janesville School Board President Bill Sodemann said Janesville could benefit from graduates who return home and start businesses here.
The scholarships don't require anyone to return home, however.
UW-W gets about 45 students a year from Janesville, Telfer said, and this donation could boost that number.
"I don't know that it's the largest, but it is a very, very significant gift to UW-Whitewater," Telfer said.
It's the largest donation ever to benefit the Janesville School District, said Janesville schools Superintendent Karen Schulte.
Few of the other scholarships that target Janesville students are nearly as big, and most aren't renewable, district spokesman Brett Berg said.
The scholarship does not require a student to choose a designated field of study. Many other scholarships do, Berg noted.
Since 2008, the Studer Group has been donating its services to help the Janesville School District improve quality by applying principles that Studer developed for health-care providers. Those services have been estimated at $1.2 million.
Craig pulled about 40 students out of class to attend Tuesday's press conference. All of them have applied to UW-W.
Craig seniors Katie Church and Dan McCrory said their classmates have been talking about the scholarships.
"It definitely adds a lot of appeal to going to Whitewater," Church said.
About 51 percent of Janesville students who graduated in 2010 planned to attend a four-year college, according to state education data. That compares with a state average of 52 percent.
"Rishy and I feel this provides an instrument for others to donate if they so chose," Quint Studer said in an email. "It is important for private citizens to support education if they have the means. We hope other individuals in other Wisconsin cities, when they read or hear about Janesville and this partnership with a university, may see this as a way to help their local school districts."
The program is called Janesville Promise "because it is based not just on the grades of the student but on the promise that they present," Loftus said. "The Studers believe that sometimes the grades do not reflect the true potential. … They said sometimes there are extenuating circumstances in a family's life or a student's life that have caused them to perhaps perform academically less than they are able."
Marv Wopat of Janesville, a longtime friend, said Quint's grades were not high enough to get him into another university, but UW-W accepted him, and that greatly impressed him.
The Studers did not want the program named after them, Loftus said. They wanted it to be about Janesville.
"My hope is that other philanthropists are going to heed this call," Loftus said. "You have a lot of great people here that could really step up and help."
The Studers in 2008 paid to build the technologically advanced Florence Kopas room in UW-W's College of Education and Professional Studies. Quint spoke at UW-W's 2006 spring commencement.
The Studers make a lot of quiet donations, locally and elsewhere, Wopat said.
The Studers did not attend the press conference, but Wopat said Quint called to ask how it went.
"Spread the word to your siblings or to juniors and sophomores who will be aspiring to attend UW-Whitewater in future years as well, that they have this to look forward to," Schulte said.
"We are very grateful to the Studers for their contribution to this university and really to the community," Telfer said. "We very much value our relationship with Janesville. It is very close to us. … This is a way to make that relationship even better."