Retired professor and UW alum Ron Schlattman believes in the impact that studying abroad can have on students.
“I’ve talked to many returning exchange students, and everyone that I’ve ever talked to has said that he/she came back changed in their views of the world,” says Schlattman. “That’s just one part of it—to understand the country—but the second part is to gain a better appreciation of the United States. It gives them a different view of themselves and the world in which they live.”
Because of this belief, Schlattman established a gift annuity and remembered the University of Wyoming in his estate to create an endowment that funds students’ studies overseas. He also donates every year to a Study Abroad scholarship for a College of Business student.
The UW International Program Office’s mission is to serve as the diplomatic and global center of the University of Wyoming and to be the primary resource for global opportunities for the students, faculty, and staff of UW and the state of Wyoming. They promote and assist faculty, students, staff, alumni, and statewide partners in participation in international activities and collaboration and facilitate, promote, and coordinate opportunities for internationalization of the curriculum, outreach, and research for the university. Last year, International Program’s Study Abroad Office facilitated nearly 400 students studying, interning, and doing research abroad. That’s up from 250 students 5 years ago and 150 students 10 years ago.
The Ronald D. Schlattman College of Business Study Abroad Scholarship will be used to cover expenses associated with study abroad, including tuition, international and in-country transportation, room, board, health/safety insurance, books, and materials for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the University of Wyoming College of Business who seek to enhance their education by studying abroad. Financial need will be the primary deciding factor for awarding the funds, with GPA being secondary.
“It is so important for business students to study abroad—to do real life international education—whether it’s internships or a semester where they get exposure to international business practices and doing business globally,” says Anne Alexander, director of International Programs. “Not nearly enough of them are able to do that right now. This is really going to have a big impact. What this annuity and the gift are going to do is really open up some doors for some people who often maybe think they can’t afford to go on a study abroad or an exchange.”
The combination of these three approaches—an endowment created with a gift annuity, an endowment created with an estate gift, and a current gift—maximizes the impact of Schlattman’s generosity on student’s lives, and knowing about the process could benefit other donors as well. Not all donors are able to fund an endowment in their lifetime, but they may have the ability to set up a gift annuity or leave estate funds that will have a major impact on students.
Schlattman was born and raised in Moorcroft, Wyoming, and has spent his life helping and teaching students. He received his bachelor’s in 1964 in business education and his master’s in business education and accounting in 1968, both from the University of Wyoming. In 1976, he received his doctorate from the University of Montana.
For three years, he taught business education, business law, accounting, and economics at the Green River High School before he was drafted into the Army in 1968. In 1971, he became a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and taught there until he retired in 1999. Two years of this time was spent as Chairman of the Faculty and three years as Director of International Education for faculty and students for the College of Business.
In 1992, while Schlattman was teaching a graduate class on the methodology of teaching communication skills, his study abroad program was born. He asked his class what they wished they had done differently as an undergrad, and 15 out of the 20 students responded they wished they had studied abroad. Schlattman asked them, “Why do you wish you had?” They said, “One, to understand the world better and, two, to be able to be more believable in the classroom.”
Schlattman never had the opportunity to study abroad when he was an undergrad either and found that that was something he regretted as well. As a consequence, he planned a trip for him and his students, and the first country they visited was Scotland. Over the next several years, they traveled to Denmark, Austria, and Germany, and then to the South Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
For each trip, Schlattman and his students spent one month in the country learning about the history, political system, legal system, and education system. Both he and the students enjoyed the experience, and Schlattman claims that the reason he wants to give students this opportunity is “so that they really understand how a foreign country is run, how the people live, where they’re going in the future, the problems they have and how they’re trying to solve them, and how they view Americans.”
He adds, “There is just a variety of questions that you don’t ask taking a tour of the Eiffel Tower. I think the minimum study abroad time is a semester, better yet would be the full year programs. I know that for a lot of students it is a financial thing, and the way I’ve written the guidelines for the scholarship, the award is based on financial need, not just on grades.”
A charitable gift annuity is a contractual arrangement in which a donor makes a contribution to the University of Wyoming Foundation in exchange for fixed annuity payments for the rest of his or her life. The annuity rate is based upon the donor’s age, and the payments are guaranteed. The annual payments constitute an obligation of the UW Foundation and, as such, are backed by the foundation’s assets.
Estate gifts are those donations that are left to the University of Wyoming after the donor’s lifetime. They include bequests, assigning the university as a beneficiary of a retirement plan, or donating property or life insurance. There are many opportunities to include UW in your estate, and foundation staff can work with your financial or estate planner to make the best decisions for you and for the university.
The University of Wyoming’s goal is to shape students into critical thinkers and leaders and to prepare them for the future. This goal is accomplished through guidance and support from faculty, staff, and donors. The students and the university greatly appreciate and benefit from the generosity of the donors, and providing students with opportunities ensures that the mission will be fulfilled and students will go into the world ready and able to make a difference.
Ron Schlattman supports study abroad scholarship for College of Business students.