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Gift honors history while supporting the future of Clarke

By Clarke News  |  August 23, 2021

As a history major, Kathleen Stephenson ’70 respects how the past lays the foundation for our future. As she prepares to gather with the Class of 1970 for their Golden Reunion during this fall’s Homecoming celebration, she chose to honor Clarke’s history with a $50,000 unrestricted gift to the annual fund. 

I have a lot to be grateful for in my life and I recognize the role Clarke played in that life, so a gift was my way of making a statement,” Stephenson said. “Whether you give $5, $500, or $50,000, you do what you can for the things you believe in.

After her time at Clarke, Stephenson enjoyed a nearly 40-year career as an attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, specializing in will, trusts, and related tax law as well as advising non-profits. She and her husband have enjoyed the history and arts Philadelphia has to offer.  Now retired, she remains active in her community through her support of her church, the arts, and by serving on area non-profit boards. Stephenson said that the diversity of her interests and achievements is a testament to Clarke. 

“At Clarke, I ‘learned how to learn’ and feel as if I never stopped,” Stephenson said. “The best thing about Clarke is that if you go in with an open mind and a curious mind, you will come out open and curious, which makes for a wonderful life.” 

Looking ahead to the Class of 1970’s Golden Reunion celebration on Saturday, September 25,  Stephenson is also curious to see how campus has changed since her time in Dubuque. While new buildings may dot the landscape, she is sure that the Clarke Spirit has stayed the same. 

“There are majors now that didn’t exist when I was in school. The school has managed to evolve and adapt while remaining Clarke, and that takes some creativity for a small liberal arts school,” Stephenson said. “Those majors, those students also inspired my gift. I want that curiosity to continue. I want to do my part, so students continue to have experiences like mine.” 

If you’d like to join Kathleen in supporting Clarke University, complete the online donation form or contact Development Officer Jayme Ironside by phone at 563.588.6501 or email at