Bill Medland got an unexpected gift this year.

Viterbo University's outgoing president was told last week that the 30-member board of trustees, along with several past board members and some long-time donors, raised more than $300,000 in two months to establish the President William Medland Scholarship Endowment.

Recipients will be f

ull-time upperclassmen in financial need who are the first generation of their family to attend college.

Scholarships will be given to at least two students per academic year, starting in 2006, with the total dollars available each year split between reci

pients. With a $300,000 base, Gary Klein, vice president of institutional advancement, estimates the endowment will annually generate $15,000 to $20,000 for scholarships. The amount makes the endowment one of the top three such funds at Viterbo, Klein said

Medland called the scholarships a "wonderful gift" and said its size is beyond anything he envisioned.

"There will always be scholarship dollars coming from this endowment for students in need," he said. "It literally is the gift that keeps giving. I ca

n't think of anything that I would treasure more."

Trustee Anita Froegel said Medland's tenure inspired the board to "do something for him a little bit above average." Vice chairman Dick Lommen noted that all current board members contributed to the endowm

ent.

"I can't even begin to tell you the amount of respect the trustees have for Bill and the work he's done at the university," Lommen said. "He has truly put Viterbo on the map with his tremendous long-term planning and execution of those plans."

Enroll

ment has doubled during Medland's 15-year tenure, and strategic plans have brought $42 million in enhancements to the campus, with 70 more capital and programming projects planned.

Medland, Viterbo's seventh and longest-serving president, will step down Ju

ne 30, citing health issues and a desire to spend more time with his family. Both Medland and his wife, Donna, have battled cancer in recent years.

Sister Mary Ann Gschwind, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, said the board managed to keep the endowment

a surprise from Medland for two months. "For one of the few times in his life, he was almost speechless," she said.

Medland was allowed to choose how the scholarships would be awarded, and said he decided on first-generation college students because they d

on't always have the support he had when he attended college. About 60 percent of Viterbo students are first-generation college students.

"I have a great admiration for, in many cases, their ability to overcome adversity and to succeed in college," he said

Kate Schott can be reached at (608) 791-8226 or Kate.Schott@lacrossetribune.com.

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