As a resident of Towers Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the 1960s, Marilyn Karlgaard could never have imagined that the facility might one day be named in her honor.
But that’s what happened Sept. 29, when the university’s largest residence hall became Karlgaard Towers in recognition of Marilyn and David Karlgaard, Blugold alumni whose history of giving to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation includes the largest sum in support of student scholarships in university history. Their financial support for their alma mater exceeds $6 million.
The Karlgaards, who now live in Great Falls, Virginia, met as UW-Eau Claire students and married during Marilyn’s junior year. They were honored at an on-campus rededication ceremony during which the new residence hall name became official. The two towers that make up Karlgaard Towers also have been renamed: Towers South is now Marilyn Karlgaard Hall, and Towers North is now David Karlgaard Hall.
“David and Marilyn Karlgaard have been ‘towers’ in their support for UW-Eau Claire students through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation,” said Kimera Way, Foundation president. “While we cannot begin to sufficiently thank them for the unparalleled impact they have had on students’ lives, we are thrilled to ensure that their names will be attached to a facility that so many Blugolds call home during their time on campus.”
Marilyn Karlgaard was one of the first residents of the former Towers South, which was built in 1967 and was a women’s residence hall when she was a student.
Since establishing the David and Marilyn Karlgaard Computer Science Scholarship in 2002 and then additional scholarships in mathematics and physics in 2010, the Karlgaards have provided some of the largest UW-Eau Claire Foundation scholarships to more than 130 students. In addition, they have funded awards for computer science, physics and mathematics faculty for professional development and to recognize their work toward strategic goals for their academic departments. They also have made investments of matching money when faculty received external grants for improvements in computer science labs. The Karlgaards were the national chairs for the Foundation’s first major fundraising campaign, Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence.
David, a Rice Lake native, graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1967 with a degree in mathematics and physics. He went on to earn two master’s degrees and a doctorate and was co-founder, CEO and president of PEC Solutions Inc., an internet technology consulting firm headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, and an adjunct professor at The George Washington University. Marilyn, a Viroqua native, attended UW-Eau Claire from 1965-68. After leaving UW-Eau Claire, she went on to complete her bachelor’s degree and also earned a master’s degree. She is a retired human resources administrator.
“Education always has been important in our lives,” David said following the announcement of a $4.5 million gift from the alumni couple to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation in 2002. “It’s the way anybody can rise up and be successful in life.”