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Growth & Gratitude: Institutional Advancement finds success despite a year of challenges

By Clarke News  |  June 24, 2021

With the conclusion of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the Institutional Advancement team was able to reflect on the variety of ways our alumni, donors, and friends showed their support in a year of uncommon challenges. With many of our in-person visits and events cancelled, we were unsure what the future of giving would look like, yet repeatedly our donors proved their commitment to Clarke’s mission and core values through giving their time, money, and talents. The generosity of our donors resulted in $2 million in philanthropic support last year.

One of our most popular virtual events was the return of our 8th annual Clarke Day. The 24-hour giving campaign allowed Clarke supporters from around the world to come together in support of One Clarke, One Community. Together, 733 donors generously raised $79,277 to further the mission of Clarke University. This included $5,000 matching gifts from Clarke alumna Susan (Tiedje) Otting ’62, Clarke Trustee Bob Wahlert and Donna Wahlert ’86, and a $10,000 matching gift from Clarke alumna Mary Jo (Rossi) Furgal ’61 and Joe Furgal. Also new this year, were two, $1,500 power hour giving challenges, which were sponsored by an anonymous donor and Kunkel & Associates.

Funding also came throughout the year from companies and organizations who hold a quality education in high esteem. As a longtime supporter of Clarke, the Dubuque Racing Association awarded the university a $5,000 grant to improve campus safety. With their funds, we were able to add two access control panels to entrances to the R.C. Wahlert Atrium, offering students and staff an extra layer of security in case of emergency.  

The university also earned grants to support our educational efforts. Alliant Energy awarded a $3,000 grant to increase our Peer Mentor Program, a collaboration between the Clarke Engagement & Intercultural Office, the MARC, and our Social Work Department focused on providing support services to students from underrepresented populations. The Sisters of Charity Ministry Foundation also gave over $8,000 to support the development of a new CareerPLUS course focused on spirituality that will be available to students, staff, and the public. Investments like these ensure the continued success of Clarke for years to come. 

Finally, we were able to welcome back one of our most popular events, the Clarke University Golf Classic. On June 7, 2021, the 33rd annual golf outing and auction raised over $72,000 to support scholarships for Dubuque area students. 31 teams participated in the 18-hole tournament, and over 30 local businesses and organizations donated items for the auction, raffle, and other prizes. For the first time, online software allowed alumni and friends from near and far to bid on exclusive auction packages and show their support for Clarke. As the first major in-person event since COVID-19, it was a wonderful way to connect after months apart and look to a more positive future.  

In a year when many people were experiencing unprecedented hardships, our alumni and friends stepped up to ensure that Clarke would continue to be a safe space for hundreds of students to receive a high quality, value-based education,” said Bill Biebuyck, Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “We owe a tremendous thanks to all our donors and volunteers, and being able to see many of them at the Golf Classic felt like a true celebration of all we have overcome in the past year.

We thank all our alumni and friends who have proudly displayed what it means to be One Clarke, One Community throughout this trying year. To find more information on upcoming events and ways you can continue to support Clarke, visit