Honoring Their U of I Experience
After years of driving their children to sorority and fraternity rush and visiting for homecomings, moms’ and dads’ weekends, and graduations, Walt and Jill (Zaccardi) Czarniecki ’71 know the power a University of Idaho education offers and the sacrifices they needed to make sure their children succeed in life.
“The family was all Greeks,” Jill said. “We encouraged our children to join things.”
Although each of the Czarnieckis’ four children pursued a different degree, all were actively involved in social, philanthropic and academic opportunities at U of I.
“Every member of our family who attended U of I had great experiences,” Walt said. “The kids all had a good education and are successful in their careers.”
After graduating, each member of the family has given back to the university in their own way. In 2017, the family decided to have a greater impact by combining their annual gifts to establish the Czarniecki Family Scholarship Endowment. The endowment funds scholarships for students from Idaho high schools.
“My brother Joe came up with the idea to pool our resources,” said Amy (Czarniecki) Staufer ’98, a member of Pi Beta Phi who received a bachelor’s degree in public communications from the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. “He researched the option to create an endowment and coordinated efforts between the university and our family. We all thought it was a great way to give back.”
Amy owns Rose Communication, a Boise-based graphic design company. She and her husband, Joe Staufer, have a son, Jack.
“I think our parents were really happy that we were at the U of I,” Amy said. “It was close enough for us to come home for holidays, but far enough away that we could become independent.”
Joe and his wife, Aimee (Williams) Czarniecki ’04, live in Boise where Joe is a certified public accountant working for Albertsons Companies, Inc. and Aimee is a freelance graphic designer. They have two children, Chloe and Henry.
“Organizations (like U of I) are always in need,” Joe said. “They are always looking to grow and promote their programs. The question isn’t when is the right time to give, it’s how can I give. It doesn’t always have to be financial donations. If you can contribute time or service, that’s great.”
Joe and Aimee also support their former high schools and their children’s current elementary school. Like their parents, their philanthropic efforts are driven by their upbringing, education and the experiences they had at U of I.
“I definitely remember my time spent at the fraternity; I was in Phi Gamma Delta,” Joe said. “I also remember the winters and Hello Walk. Really, I spent the majority of the time building both personal and professional relationships. I think so much of that drives our memories. When I think of U of I, I think about the relationships.”
Tom Czarniecki ’07, the youngest of the Czarniecki siblings, graduated with degrees in accounting and finance from the College of Business and Economics. He is a certified public accountant and owns the Boise-based accounting firm Czarniecki & Co. He and his wife, Megan, who works for the American Cancer Society, have a daughter named Lucy and another child on the way.
Tom said he remembers his time as a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the relationships he established and continues to foster with his fraternity brothers. He was also one of the first students to take full advantage of the College of Business and Economics’ J.A. Albertson Building.
“The business school was awesome,” Tom said. “When I was there, the Albertson building had just opened up and we were some of the first students to be able to utilize it. I always loved interacting with the faculty and staff. They really helped me shape my career path.”
Walt and Jill’s daughter Annie (Czarniecki) Colson ’95 was their first child to graduate from U of I. She earned a degree in elementary education from the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, and was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. She and her husband, Chris Colson ’95, operate a ranch in Montana. Annie is a substitute teacher and they have two children, John and Kate.
“The U of I experience should be accessible to all prospective students,” Joe said. “And for those who aren’t able to have a U of I experience without financial support, if we can play a part in helping them build their own Idaho experience, well that’s really our goal in establishing the scholarship.”
This Czarniecki Family Scholarship Endowment is a celebration of the family’s relationship with U of I and an encouragement to Idaho students to find their own unique U of I experience.
“The Czarniecki family are one amongst many proud donors offering scholarship endowments for U of I students,” said Dean Kahler, Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management. “We are honored to partner with them to make the Czarniecki Family Scholarship available for any full time Idaho student in pursuit of a degree.”