Lawrence receives multi-million dollar donation from alumni

Tammy Tran

President Jill Beck announced Oct. 14 that Lawrence University had received a $3.99 million gift. One of the largest alumni donations in Lawrence history, the gift is from the Paul and Katherine Schmidt charitable trust.
Paul and Katherine Schmidt, two former Lawrence students, met nearly 75 years ago during their freshman year on campus. Associate Director of Major and Planned Giving Joshua Dukelow was the last Lawrence University staff member to speak to Paul Schmidt before his death.
Mr. Schmidt shared with Dukelow how he met Mrs. Schmidt at Lawrence. “It was homecoming weekend and they were part of a double date,” explained Dukelow. “And so Paul was with a young lady who knew Katherine and brought one of his friends along to be Katherine’s date. But the next day, Paul and Katherine decided that they should be together instead.”
The two dated for the rest of their time at Lawrence, and they were married for almost 75 years. “Lawrence has always played a big part in their family,” stated Dukelow, “because it’s how they met and where they spent their first years together. They always gave back every year in very generous ways.”
The Paul and Katherine trust was originally established in 1994. The charitable remainder of their trust, totaling exactly $3,997,319.72, is divided into roughly three components. The first portion will add nearly $1 million to the existing Schmidt Family Scholarship. The Schmidt Family Scholarship is for students who have a strong interest in business, economics and entrepreneurship.
The second part of the Paul and Katherine trust will support the Lawrence University endowment. In the past couple of years, Lawrence’s endowment value has decreased due to the poor economy. Although this decrease has not drastically affected Lawrence’s academic mission, the Paul and Katherine trust will be of tremendous help to the endowment.
“In addition to supporting business students, the Schmidt family was interested in supporting Lawrence as a whole,” explained Beck.
“The Schmidt gift will make it more possible for us to get through this great recession without damage to a Lawrence education,” Beck continued. “Students will feel financial stability and that’s not a bad thing. Indirectly, every student will have a bit more support.”
The third component of the Paul and Katherine trust will go to improving campus residence halls. Specifically, there are plans to improve facilities in Plantz and Trever halls.
“Last year there were some conversations about improving the bathrooms in Plantz and Trever and those conversations will pick up again very quickly,” commented Beck. “And we hope next summer to actually accomplish those improvements. If we are successful in accomplishing those renovations, that’s a lot of students who will have newer, cleaner, fresher and more pleasant daily living on campus.”
Dukelow urges students to keep the Schmidts’ generosity in mind as they enjoy their years at Lawrence.
Said Dukelow, “Paul and Katherine Schmidt had such a special place in their hearts for Lawrence that they included Lawrence University in this trust they created and now it’s going to provide scholarship aid and assistance for students. Students need to think about how they want to help to give back to Lawrence University in the long run as well.”
Beck stated, “I am always impressed and sincerely touched by the memories that alumni have about their time at Lawrence and how much they reflect back at their years here. The gift from the Schmidts is one more remarkable indication of how much Lawrence means in the lives of our students as they move through the rest of their lives. I’m deeply grateful to them.