UWSP hosts gala, celebrates capital campaign
For the City Times
STEVENS POINT – A flurry of confetti and resounding cheers from the sold-out crowd at the 125th Pointers Gala accompanied the Oct. 19 announcement that the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point raised more than $41.5 million during the university’s first capital campaign.
The “Then, Now and Forever: We Are Point” campaign’s goal-shattering total was revealed on a banner unfurled by UWSP Chancellor Bernie Patterson.
Billed as the capstone event of Homecoming Weekend, the gala also celebrated UWSP’s 125th anniversary and the presentation of its Distinguished Alumni Awards.
“This is a purple-letter day,” said Chancellor Patterson. “It is a day we first dreamed of six years ago, and suddenly, here we are. Together we have ignited a new era in the history of this university.”
Over the course of the campaign, 16,000 UW-Stevens Point Bridge Builder donors from every state in the nation pledged their support, doubling the university’s endowment in the process. Funds from the campaign go toward student scholarships, as well as the creation of cutting-edge academic programs and endowing department chairs.
This year’s UWSP Distinguished Alumni Award recipients include: Judy Goldsmith, class of 1963, a former National Organization of Women president who served as dean of UW-Fond du Lac and as an English teacher; Kathy Kinney, class of 2016, an actress known for playing “Mimi” on “The Drew Carey Show,” as the creator the award-winning literacy website MrsP.com, and co-author, with Cindy Ratzlaff, class of 1974, of a women’s empowerment book series, “Queen of Your Own Life;” and Cheryl Schreier, class of 1979, the now retired first female superintendent of the Mount Rushmore Memorial, with a 40-year career with the National Parks Service.
The 2019 Trailblazer Award went to entrepreneurs and media influencers Jenna, class of 2010, and Drew Kutcher, class of 2009, who have built an online empire with Jenna’s popular “Goal Digger” podcast and Drew’s “Kutcher Method” fitness site. Delta Dental president Denny Peterson, class of 1978, and his wife, Sharon Dehlinger Peterson, class of 1978, were the recipients of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award for their years of service to their alma mater and the community. Denny will retire this fall after more than 40 years at Delta Dental, and Sharon is a retired schoolteacher.
New this year was the Theron B. Pray Award, named for the school’s first president and given for extraordinary service to the university. The award was given to capital campaign co-chairs Lon, class of 1970, and Mary Roberts, longtime supporters of UW-Stevens Point. Honorees for this year’s Mary Ann Nigbor Volunteer of the Year Award included all of the alumni and friends who had participated in University Advancement’s 125K Service Challenge.
The night’s entertainment included performances by Broadway star Laura Osnes, who attended UW-Stevens Point in the early-2000s. A two-time Tony Award nominated performer, Osnes was cast as Sandy in the 2007 Broadway revival of “Grease” after winning the reality television show “Grease: You’re the One That I Want.”