SMSU alum Williams leaves a generous gift

All of us at Southwest Minnesota State University received a wonderful gift this last month when SMSU alum Jim Williams from Clarkfield presented a check on behalf of his late brother Steve’s estate. Steve was a 1974 graduate who had a great sense of pride and appreciation for his time at SMSU. He was extremely grateful for the education he received and the experiences he was afforded. Steve had a very successful 30-year career with Hormel and often spoke of planning to give back something to the University that got him started. Steve’s gift of nearly $1 million will soon be used to positively affect the lives of future generations of Mustang students, themselves working to get their start on successful careers. With new scholarship opportunities, we will be able to provide additional resources to assist students and keep their educational experience affordable.

Steve’s generosity and desire to give back to not only SMSU but to other organizations across the region is a wonderful story of the impact we can make and the legacy that we can leave to share with others. Charitable gifts no matter how big or small can have an enormous impact supporting the mission of organizations like the SMSU Foundation. Our foundation is a nonprofit governed by a volunteer board that strives to engage alumni and friends of SMSU to raise funds in support of scholarships, projects and activities that benefit SMSU students and the strategic priorities of the University. Charitable contributions are critical to support that mission and we are fortunate to have very loyal alumni, community members and friends that support us in those efforts.

Gifts like the one Steve made most always draw attention and public gratitude, but we cannot overlook and forget the smallest of gifts. Generosity is often shared in many forms, a simple thank you, a pat on the back, or sharing of someone’s success story are also generous notions that we must appreciate. Collectively these simple gifts speak to the value of what we do, the impact that we have on other’s lives, and the opportunities that we can create when others trust and invest in us. Together these things can encourage students to consider SMSU as their university of choice, inspire donors to invest in our work, and instill a sense of pride for our communities both on campus and across the region that we are doing great things.

Coming up on Feb. 23 is our annual Scholarship Recognition Luncheon. This event has come to be one of the most inspiring and enjoyable events of the year. It is an opportunity to thank our many donors that make our scholarships possible and most importantly we get to hear firsthand from some of our students how scholarships have shaped their experiences at SMSU. The private support we receive is both greatly appreciated and often times a life changing investment for others. I invite anyone who is interested to come and hear the inspiring stories that our students have to share. You may register by calling the Foundation Office at 507-537-6266.