Thank you to alumnus and Board of Visitors member Ron Schwarz

Why I Give

Alumnus and Board of Visitors member Ron Schwarz
explains why he supports the School of Education

Ron Schwarz has many fond memories of his time as a student at UW–Madison. One that stayed with him for the 40 years since he graduated from the School of Education had little to do with a classroom.

Schwarz and his roommate went to a party, he recalls, when a homeless man wandered in. Some at the party began teasing the man and someone burned a hole in his jacket. “My roommate and I were moved,” says Schwarz. “It was starting to get cold. We took him home. He slept on our couch. We gave him clothes, he took a shower, we had breakfast and he left and we never saw him again. His name was Elmer, and I will never forget him.”

Ron Schwarz‚ÄčWhat might be an early act of giving was certainly not the only one. But between his graduation in 1977 and his daughter’s enrollment at UW–Madison in 2006, Schwarz doesn’t think he ever made a gift to UW–Madison. “Her going to school here reinvigorated my love for UW–Madison,” he says. “So I give because I think this is a really special place. I know people love the universities they went to, but no one loves theirs as much as Badgers love ours.”

Schwarz earlier this year volunteered to match every gift to the School of Education’s Annual Fund, up to $50,000. Because of the match, the number of gifts made and amount of dollars donated to the Spring Campaign more than tripled from the previous year. “I wasn’t sure a match would make a difference,” Schwarz says. “But Dean Diana Hess has always thought they do. So being able to make that kind of difference, to spur that kind of enthusiasm, was really fun.”

For Schwarz, philanthropy has to be meaningful. In addition to the School of Education, he also supports and serves on a board for the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas-Dallas. “My father was a holocaust survivor and that is a very important cause to me.”

Although Schwarz’s parents didn’t give to charity on a regular basis, giving is a lesson he has tried to teach his adult children. “My kids see this. I teach them we’re fortunate to have what we have and that it comes with a responsibility to give back,” he says. “I can’t force them to do anything, but I tell them, you give. You can give $25 to your university. Do something. It feels good to make a difference, to see how you’re having an impact.”

Schwarz has served on the School of Education’s Board of Visitors since 2011. He was recruited by the former dean, Julie Underwood, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. “I came for the first meeting and I loved it. And I still love it,” he says. “It has completely re-inspired my love for the University.”

Schwarz has lived in Dallas since 1982; his two children live in Dallas and Chicago. After graduating from the School of Education, he taught high school math in Nicaragua and Colombia for three years before pursuing an MBA from the University of Texas, Austin in 1982. Schwarz has founded multiple companies and now works in a variety of startup areas.

 — By Sarah Fuelleman, Alumni Relations Coordinator

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