Mueller legacy (cont.) — Sister’s gift funds Art Agency lecture series

A family that is well known for its generosity toward the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is giving back once again, funding the Visiting Artists Lecture Series of the student Art Agency organization.

Marcia Mueller decided to back the series after meeting a student artist with a contagious enthusiasm for Art Agency and its work.

Mueller was on campus last fall (photo above) for the University’s annual reception at which scholarship patrons get to meet the students receiving those scholarships. She was there to represent the family and her late brother, Craig Mueller, whose $1 million bequest, given in 2008, is the largest-ever gift for scholarships from a UW-Green Bay alumnus. About 30 students received Mueller scholarships in 2011-12.

“Craig would be the first one to help support Art Agency if he heard about the need,” Marcia Mueller says. “I’m just trying to carry on, and hopefully expand, his legacy.”

Marcia Mueller’s gift will support several visiting artists, beginning with metalsmith, writer and craft activist Gabriel Craig April 24-25. Details can be found online.

UW-Green Bay senior Jason Keller inspired Mueller’s interest in funding the series when she met him at the scholarship reception. Keller spoke passionately about Art Agency, a student organization that connects art students, networks with visiting artists and engages in related community services projects. He mentioned some funding challenges the group had encountered, and Mueller requested more information. From there, the idea took off, Keller said.

“At a time when budget cuts are at the forefront of discussions, it is wonderful to have someone like Marcia to advocate for the importance of the arts,” he said. “Having the ability to speak with the artists about their individual processes, techniques and thoughts will provide invaluable insight to all the students who choose to participate.”

Marcia’s brother, Craig Mueller, who passed away in 2007, endowed scholarships for students in communication, the arts and visual design. Those were subject areas he explored, enjoyed and, well, explored some more during his own roundabout path to a UW-Green Bay bachelor’s degree. He often said when he finally crossed the stage to receive his degree, then-Chancellor Edward Weidner stage-whispered to him, only half-joking, “It’s about time, Mueller.”

Mueller started college at the old freshman/ sophomore Green Bay Center in the early 1960s. He was at the 1967 groundbreaking for the four- year UW-Green Bay, and later immersed himself in student government and the Fourth Estate newspaper. He earned his bachelor’s in 1971 as a member of the new school’s second graduating class.

He spent most of the next three decades pursuing a course that included America’s Cup racing and a career as a commercial transport pilot, and eventually settled in San Diego. He suffered life-threatening injuries in a runway accident in 1998 that ended his piloting career but not his zest for life. Mueller reconnected with the University, pledged his gift for student scholarships, made a dollar-for-dollar match for the entire alumni phone-a-thon one year, and supported restoration of historic Lambeau Cottage on the campus bayshore.

University officials say they hope to award nearly $50,000 in Mueller scholarships for the next academic year, 2012-13.

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