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Monday, March 31, 2008

Graduate names UW-W in will

J. William Schmitz, a former Lake Geneva School District librarian and UW-Whitewater graduate, bequeathed a $100,000 gift to the university before his death last year.

The gift will go to the Wynett Barnett Scholarship, which supports UW-Whitewater's Theatre and Dance department

Schmitz, a Milwaukee native, graduated from UW-Whitewater in 1963 with a major in speech. During his college years, Schmitz became involved with theater production, an interest that continued throughout his life. While Schmitz wasn't the lead in major productions, he worked behind the scenes building sets and running lights.

After graduation, Schmitz served as a librarian in the Lake Geneva school system until he decided to continue his education and received a master's degree at the University of Oregon. Schmitz retired in 2002 after working in Washington as a librarian.

Close friends say that theater meant a great deal to him when he was at UW-Whitewater, and he wanted to give back to the program. The $100,000 estate gift was declared in his will before his death in 2007.

"This estate gift is a significant addition to the scholarship and will greatly impact students," Megan Matthews, the director of advancement for the College of Arts and Communication was quoted as saying in a news release. "Planned gifts can make a difference."

The Wynett Barnett Scholarship endowment was established in 1980 by Professor Emeritus Stephen Lewandowski, a retired UW-Whitewater mathematics instructor and devoted follower of the arts. Wynett Barnett was the first woman on the UW-Whitewater faculty to hold a doctoral degree. During her 25-year career on campus, Barnett served as the first dean of women, first speech teacher and director of drama and the chair of the speech department. Barnett was devoted to speech and theater, and many programs were established under her.

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