Why We Give
Past Donor Stories
“Graduate school and my career path took me away from Idaho, but the experience at this university grounded me and my roots grew deep over the years,” said Gary Strong ‘66. “As my wife, Carolyn and I reflected on where we might invest in the future, the University of Idaho was always a part of that plan.”
Gary and Carolyn have been loyal supporters for 23 cumulative years. “Coming from the small town of Potlatch, Idaho, I remember the challenge of being able to go on to college, so we made provisions for the UI in our estate plans. Those include a scholarship and an endowment to name the Gary E. Strong Curriculum Center in the recently renovated College of Education building, and an endowment for the library to name the Gary and Carolyn Strong Special Collections Reading Room, both providing important hubs for student learning and engagement.
“While we are living, we want to see where our investment will be going and I am pleased with how each of our interests is being handled. The university’s attention to our interests has been rewarding and we are glad that we didn’t have to invest in just one. Of course, we made provisions for our children and grandchildren, but I recalled the scholarship support and my work at the library and how it provided me the means to finish my degree. I wanted to invest in that future for others.”
Gary Strong is an internationally recognized leader in the field of Library Science. After a career spanning more than 40 years, he retired as University Librarian from UCLA in 2013. He also served as State Librarian of California and director of Queens Borough Public Library of New York. He has been a consultant and advisor to the Library of Congress, the International Federation of Library Association representative to the United Nations, and a trainer of librarians in Israel and Latin America for the U.S. State Department. Gary received an honorary degree—doctor of humane letters—from the University of Idaho in 2010 and an Outstanding Alumni award in 1994, and is a current member and former chair of the Library advisory board. Carolyn retired as principal of Holy Family School in South Pasadena, California. Prior, she was principal at St. Thomas School in Woodhaven, New York, and Assistant to the superintendent at the Folsum Cordova School District in California. The couple was inducted into the Silver and Gold Society in 2015 and are members of the Heritage Society; both are donor recognition societies.
“Carolyn and I returned to Moscow every summer, and in the 1980’s, we bought a place where we’d eventually retire in July of 2013. On those summer trips, a drive through campus was always a must, along with stories to our children of my time there. In addition to my classes, I worked in the university library which provided me the foundation for my career. They were good years, and now that we are back [on the Palouse], we have enjoyed becoming more involved with the life of the campus.”
The University of Idaho is honored to count the Strongs as members of the university’s Loyal Donor Program, a program that recognizes individuals and companies who have given for 20 or more cumulative years. Welcome back to Vandal country, Gary and Carolyn!
For more than 80 years, CHS Inc. — a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States — has been serving Idaho’s rural, agricultural communities with a business model designed to help today’s farmers be more productive.
With a commitment to serving the agricultural industry, the CHS Foundation has generously partnered with the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and College of Business and Economics (CBE) for more than 34 years.
“CHS has a long history of stewardship with universities, corporate giving partnerships and scholarship programs,” said William Nelson, vice president of corporate citizenship at CHS Inc. “The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has been the key to our relationship for a long time, but also the College of Business and the opportunity we had to be involved in the Barker Trading Room was really significant for us.”
A $250,000 grant from the CHS Foundation was instrumental in the 2014 renovations of the Barker Capital Management and Trading Program’s trading room, located in the business college. A gift from the CHS Foundation also provided funding for curriculum development and expansion of the program to CALS, allowing students to learn about trading agriculture commodities and risk management in the agriculture industry.
Nelson sees CHS’s stewardship with UI as a partnership — a way to educate and connect with students who have an inclination for farming and help them live and raise families in rural communities.
“Another area that has been a real plus for us has been the agricultural education program,” Nelson said. “We stepped up last year as a company to become a lead partner in the National Teach Ag Campaign and we proceeded to do a lot of activities with various co-agriculture programs, particularly with the university teaching component.”
The CHS Foundation has loyally supported the university and agricultural education from their first gift of $350 in 1981 to today. With decades of generosity supporting student scholarships, Ag Days, 4-H youth development programs and educational innovations, CHS Inc. and the CHS Foundation set the standard for collaborative and meaningful partnerships.
Similar in so many ways, Irwin and Rowley were both born at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, Wash. Both love playing music (particularly the organ) and both graduated from UI with degrees in education.
In 2002, the pair set up the Kathleen Bailey Irwin and Kathleen Irwin Rowley Scholarship, which is presented annually to a student who wishes to pursue teaching and is enrolled in the College of Education. The scholarship is geared toward helping upperclassmen students, and is even offered to graduate students pursuing their master’s degrees.
“We knew the UI helped us grow and mature to make practical decisions on our journeys through life,” Rowley said. “We wish to help others on their journeys.”
In fact, Irwin has been helping generations of Idaho students on their journeys through her 42 years of loyal support. Her giving began in 1970 with a $10 gift to the university’s annual fund. In the decades since, Irwin has given regularly to the annual fund, supported the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and created the endowed scholarship with her daughter.
Rowley and Irwin have even donated vintage clothing to the Leila Old Historic Costume Collection, housed in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences — allowing students who are studying textiles to feel the fabrics of vintage clothing and learn from their craftsmanship. The oldest of these garments is a blouse made in 1889, but the majority of the donated garments were Irwin’s dresses from the 1930s.
It was during 1935 that Irwin first arrived at the University of Idaho. While attending Washington State College during the Great Depression, she heard that there was the possibility that her father, Walter Bailey, might lose his job. Fearing what this would mean for her family, Kathleen transferred to UI for her senior year.
“Although that didn’t happen and everything turned out beautifully, at that time, I chose to attend UI because they offered me the quickest way to graduate and find a job,” said Irwin.
After earning her degree, Irwin went on to teach at Orchard Center Grade School in Spokane Valley, Wash. from 1937 to 1940.
Rowley, who retired from teaching second grade and substitute teaching all grades, travels to a new worldly destination yearly, and currently is writing a book about her mother’s and her ancestors’ life.
“My mother has lived an amazing life,” she said. “I’m honored to be able to put together this book.”
Rowley has also decided to honor her mother by naming a space after both Kathleens in the renovated College of Education building. The new learning space will be a place where education students and faculty can collaborate and share ideas.
Despite her age, Irwin is full of energy and has many fond memories of her time at UI.
“I loved the UI,” Irwin said. “I thought it was just so great.”
It has been this love that has kept Irwin so engaged and has made such a lasting impact on the UI.
Learn more about the university’s loyal donor program, honoring donors who have given for 20 or more years.
Article by Joshua Nishimoto, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Office of Advancement.
Vic and Sandra Storhok, Idaho Falls, started giving to the university when their children, Eric ’90 and Victor “Chris” ’88 were students. Now, 30 years later, they continue to support their sons’ alma mater with an annual gift because they believe in higher education for Idaho and want to see UI prosper.
“After Eric graduated and went to grad school at University of Michigan, he told us that Idaho had prepared him better for grad school than many other students in his class,” said Vic. “That was really impressive.”
While the Storhoks give to several causes, they are very passionate about UI and have embraced the university in many ways.
“We started to give because our kids attended the university, but even before that, I had a special connection with the university,” Vic said. “I was a program manager for the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) in the 80’s and had several research programs sponsored at UI. I developed a relationship with the some of the faculty there and we wanted to give to help them out.”
In addition, the couple has taken advantage of the outreach program offerings that the university offers across the state.
“Several years ago I remember enrolling in the Master Gardener’s Program that was offered by the Idaho Falls UI Extension program,” Sandra said. “We went to the classes and participated in other events with them. We learned a lot.”
Over the last 30 years, the Storhoks’ relationship with the university has only deepened as their sons graduated and moved into successful careers, their daughter-in-law became employed at UI, and one of their grandchildren enrolled as a Vandal.
“UI is really the premiere university in the state,” Sandra said, “And it should be treated as such.”
“There’s really nothing more we can do than give what we can each month and hope others do the same,” Vic added. “If 30,000 people gave a little bit, that would be something.”
When Tom and Carrie Bitterwolf came to Moscow in 1987, they had no inkling of the extent to which the University of Idaho, colleagues and students would change them. Carrie, who earned a doctorate from UI in curriculum and instruction in 1998, works as a nationally-certified teacher in the Moscow School District and Tom is a professor of chemistry at UI. Ever an advocate for undergraduate research and the student experience, Tom was honored by the Student Alumni Relations Board with a tree planted in his honor.
"My personal roots have sunk deep into this campus, just as the roots of a red oak tree students planted for me are burrowing deep into the Idaho soil," said Tom. "My wife, Carrie, and I realized we’d joined a family, united by how much we care about our students."
They soon realized that to achieve their dreams, students often need the help of the community.
Tom wrote, "Daily we see examples of students struggling to earn enough money attend college. Many of our students are first-generation college students. These students, and others, need our support."
The Bitterwolfs have now donated to the UI for 26 cumulative years, making the members of the university's Loyal Donor recognition program. The Loyal Donor program honors individuals and companies that have given to the University of Idaho for 20 or more cumulative years.
"Carrie and I feel passionately about many UI programs, including theater, the arboretum and my beloved honors program," said Tom. "These programs enrich students and the community alike."
The Bitterwolfs have also made the University of Idaho part of their estate plans. "When our daughters were young, Carrie and I saw to it that our modest estate would ensure their education and provide a small nest egg for our future," said
Tom. "Now we’ve shifted the emphasis of our estate planning toward the education of our grandchildren, as well as the children of others – deserving people we will never meet."
Through their loyal giving and thoughtful planning, the Bitterwolfs have impacted the lives of Idaho students and will continue to do so for generations to come.
The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, one of the oldest and largest charitable foundations in the state, is a longtime benefactor of the University of Idaho. For more than 43 years, the Boise-based foundation has supported several initiatives at UI, including the annual support of multiple scholarships and the Idaho Law Learning Center in the historic old Ada County Courthouse. Its cumulative years of support make the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation a part of the university’s Loyal Partner Program, recognizing those partners with two decades or more of financial support of the UI.
Established in the 1963, the foundation is named in honor Laura Moore Cunningham, a Boise native and daughter of C.W. Moore, founding partner of First National Bank, (later to become US Bank). Cunningham was a dedicated community member, who served on several volunteer boards.
Today, the family of Cunningham makes up the board of directors and includes University of Idaho alumni, Laura MacGregor Bettis ’03, and Janelle A. Wise ’04, ’05. Harry L. Bettis, father of Laura and Janelle, and great-nephew of Cunningham, was granted an honorary degree from UI in 2013.
Learn more about the University of Idaho’s Loyal Partner Program.
For Mark and Catherine Daily, being a Vandal means extending a long family tradition. It also means loyal support of an institution that helped them launch their own family and careers.
Mark and Cathy met at the University of Idaho – he was studying physics and she was studying anthropology. Mark played varsity tennis, and Cathy exercised a passion for music in the jazz band. Married after their junior year, Mark and Cathy started a post-graduation life that took Mark to the US Air Force to develop laser technologies, discovering along the way just what caliber of education he’d received.
“I found out how good a school UI was, really, as I was busy doing laser physics with the Air Force,” Mark said. “I was working with people from schools like MIT and RPI, and I found out there was really no difference. I was actually being promoted ahead of them.”
Mark went on to teach physics and work as a research scientist with several institutions, including the National Security Agency, before returning home to Idaho to live and continue teaching as a physics professor in Twin Falls.
Four generations of Dailys have now attended UI, with numerous siblings and uncles further spreading the web. Mark and Cathy’s oldest son graduated in spring of 2014, and their youngest son put one more notch on their Vandal family tree when he enrolled this fall.
Being a Vandal means being a part of that connected legacy. The Dailys have also made donating to the University of Idaho an annual tradition. For 23 cumulative years, they’ve contributed to a variety of programs, including the music and physics departments.
“I realized after I left here what an incredible education I’d gotten,” Mark said. “The teachers and programs are doing a fabulous job, and I want to see them keep doing it.”
Their support has earned the Dailys a spot in the university’s Loyal Donor Program, recognizing cumulative giving for two decades or more. Loyal Donors are listed at uidaho.edu/loyaldonors.
Recognition in the Loyal Donor Program occurs at any amount of giving. The Dailys started their streak of giving with a $40 contribution in 1985.
“When you’re just starting out, you’re broke, so you start where you can,” Mark recalled. “But part of the reason you’re able to go to this wonderful institution is because people who have gone before are supporting you. As an alum, when you get to that position, you need to carry it on.”
Through more than four decades, Elbert and Elna Barton have personified loyalty – to their professions, their commitment to the community and to each other.
Born in rural, windswept western Oklahoma, Elbert “Bart” Barton joined the US Navy following the attack on Pearl Harbor and completed college in his home state. His course steered him from the Pacific theater of WWII, to the command of a Navy destroyer, and finally to Moscow, Idaho, in 1960, where he helped lead the Navy ROTC program.
His first retirement, from the Navy in 1965, proved an opportunity to set sail on a new career with the University of Idaho.
As director of personnel at UI, Bart applied his Navy-honed management skills and a 1963 master’s degree in business from UI to take the helm of what would became the university’s modernized human resources office.
Elna, a California native, also worked at the university in food service. The two met when Elna cooked for a Boy Scout camp north of Moscow one summer, as Bart volunteered for the scouts. They’ve been married for 43 years, participating in many community organizations and volunteering for UI together.
When Bart retired from UI in 1981, it was only to take up another, albeit unpaid vocation, as a volunteer with the Idaho Roadrunners, Inc., a group of fellow retirees who enjoy traveling and exploring new places, often united by the uniform of Vandal attire. Both Elna and Bart are members of the University of Idaho Retirees Association, as well – Bart served as president.
Through the years, the Bartons have continued to express their passion for the University of Idaho. One way their loyalty takes shape is through their years of financial support to the university programs, people and facilities.
In fact, the Bartons have steered a steady course through 43 consecutive years of giving.
One of their first gifts to the university was a $1,000 donation to support the construction of the Kibbie Dome.
“When they were building the Kibbie Dome,” Elna recalled, “we were living up on the heights, and we could see them putting up the dome.”
That remarkable loyalty makes Bart and Elna members of the Loyal Donor Program at UI, recognizing supporters who have made gifts of any amount to the university over a cumulative two decades or more. Members of the Loyal Donor Program are recognized on an honor roll on the program’s website.
Notably, the Bartons made a major gift to the university in the form of a charitable gift annuity in 2005. Other gifts are spread out among different departments and programs, including support for scholarships and for athletics.
“Over the years we’ve given money in lumps of about $500 to probably at least 25 different organizations,” Bart said. “I like to spread them out. One year we’ll give to five different departments. They think we’re big wheels,” he said with a laugh.
“We get a lot of invitations (to UI events),” Elna said, smiling.
Their passion and enthusiasm, so important during their time as employees and volunteers with the university, is continuing to make an impact.
“I just love the University, and Elna does, too,” Bart said.
Archie George, director of institutional research and assessment, served UI loyally for more than 30 years before his recent retirement, helping supply the data and research that tell the story of UI impact on students and the world. His wife, Mary, shared in that impact, working for many years as a scientific aide in the department of plant, soil and entomological sciences.
Beyond that invaluable work as employees, the Georges show their loyalty to the Vandals by making annual contributions that support facets of University life that they are passionate about, including need-based student scholarships.
In fact, Archie and Mary have made an annual contribution for 34 years, altogether. That streak of generosity has earned them recognition in the University’s new Loyal Donor Program, honoring donors with more than two cumulative decades of giving at any level.
“As an employee, I always felt that what we did here was really important,” Archie said. “And giving is important because it changes how you feel about your engagement with the University. I’ve found that making a small commitment through giving reinforces all the other commitments.”
Archie’s family has deep roots in the area, as his great-grandmother owned a homestead. His father and grandfather owned a dairy, and his grandmother graduated from U-Idaho in 1917. That legacy has continued, with one of the George’s own children receiving a degree from UI.
As a student himself at UI, Archie worked and took out loans to make his education happen. That’s influenced the George’s commitment to helping future generations of students achieve their dreams.
“I think giving creates another opportunity for students at UI,” George said. “It sends a signal that we value them and we want to make their experiences here possible.”
Julius Edward "Pete" Peterson ’62 is a decorated Navy veteran who taught high school for 31 years. He is just one of the many loyal donors who for decades have consistently made gifts to the University of Idaho.
Pete's giving history spans 44 years. His donations have grown from annual gifts of less than $100 to gifts that have established endowed scholarships for students in the College of Education and the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.
He is dedicated to helping first-generation college students earn degrees and meet their educational goals. Additionally, he has made a generous estate gift to the University of Idaho Foundation.
Pete, a retiree living in Meridian, Idaho, said he understands the increasing financial challenges facing first-generation college students and he’s passionate about ensuring the achievements of pupils at all levels of education. That’s why he’s committed to helping future teachers, as well as other UI collegians, avoid amassing large student loan debts.
For Pete, like many others, establishing scholarships demonstrates appreciation for the education he received at the University of Idaho.
The university has created the new Loyal Donor Program, recognizing cumulative giving from loyal donors like Pete. He joins scores of Vandals who have made gifts to the university for two decades or more. They're listed at uidaho.edu/loyaldonors.
Like the iconic lampposts that illuminate the Moscow campus, gifts from such loyal donors will brighten the futures of Vandals for generations to come.