Ford encourages others with first gift to new Foundation

Diane Ford and Lou LeCalseyThe University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Foundation received its first gift toward a scholarship endowment on April 19. Diane (Dockry) Ford, Vice President-Controller of Integrys Energy Group, and a 1975 Managerial Systems graduate of UW-Green Bay, presented Foundation President Lou LeCalsey with the first check to the newly formed Foundation.

“I have been thinking about setting up a scholarship fund at UWGB for a while now,” said Ford, whose husband Patrick and daughter Christy are also UW-Green Bay graduates. “I certainly feel that what I learned at UWGB has served me very well in my life and career and helped me to achieve the success I have today. I always tell people, when they ask me why I am involved in so many community activities, that I really believe in following the Bible verse (Luke 12:48), ‘to whom much has been given, much is expected.'”

The University formalized the adoption of by-laws and articles of incorporation, April 19, for its own foundation, opening a new chapter in a 44-year relationship with the huge ($2.5 billion in assets) and highly respected University of Wisconsin Foundation in Madison. The Chancellor’s Council of Trustees will continue to serve in an advisory role and will also operate as the Foundation’s board of directors.

Ford was named the inaugural treasurer of the Foundation, joining LeCalsey (chair), Virginia Riopelle (vice chair) and Robert Bush (secretary) as members of the executive committee.

“As inaugural treasurer, I thought the timing would be great to make the first contribution,” Ford said. “As trustees, we’re asked to take a leadership role, and the WPS Foundation will start doing a match on part of the gift, so that what I give can grow. You could say ‘the moon and the stars aligned’ so I just did it!”

Ford hopes her gift will inspire others to give as well, noting the diminished state support for higher education.

“As we have all watched support for UWGB slip away by the state government cutting funding every year and the federal government cutting scholarship and loan availability for students in need, it makes it even more important that there are monies set aside that are in UW-Green Bay’s control to fill in those gaps,” she stated.

As someone who provided her own way through college, Ford says she empathizes with students who are working and still struggling to pay their way.

“I believe strongly that a college education is very important now, and just because you don’t have the means to pay doesn’t mean deserving kids should not go to college. I was the oldest of eight kids and my parents did not go to college, so I paid my own way and worked three jobs to do it. That was back when we were talking hundreds of dollars a year, not thousands. It has gotten a lot harder to do what I did.”

Ford encourages alumni to consider giving back.

“This Foundation is another way of providing opportunities for our alumni to give back to the University, stay connected, and help upcoming generations.”