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Alumni in Action

Tom and Karen Falk Give $10M for Scholarships, Faculty Support

By Alumni Relations

March 31, 2016

Karen and Tom Falk have a long history of supporting the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Tom, a 32-year veteran at Kimberly-Clark and chair of the UW Foundation’s Board of Directors, along with his wife Karen, a UW–Madison School of Education alumna, give generously to their alma mater. Now, the couple is donating $10 million to ensure the best and brightest students have a chance to receive a UW–Madison education.

Their recent donation includes funding for two areas the university seeks support in: need-based scholarships and endowed faculty positions. The Karen A. Falk Diversity Scholarship Fund in Education will support students from underrepresented groups enrolled at the UW’s School of Education. The Thomas J. Falk Diversity Scholarship will be offered through the Wisconsin School of Business.

“It’s really important for children to have role models who look like them or have similar backgrounds to them,” says Karen. “We want to help take those fabulous students and make sure they can actually afford to complete an education.

Karen graduated from the School of Education in 1980 and lived in low-cost housing Zoe Bayliss Women’s Cooperative to make ends meet in college. Tom, who grew up caddying at the Chenequa Country Club in Hartland, Wisconsin, was named an Evans Scholar and received a full-tuition award available only to caddies. He graduated from the Wisconsin School of Business with a degree in accounting in 1980. Because of their own hard work and UW experiences, the Falks actively look for ways to help students afford college.

“I believe that the best people are in every corner in society, and we want to make sure the best people in society have a chance to rise up,” says Tom.

The couple will also endow two faculty chairs: the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education and the Thomas J. Falk Distinguished Chair in Business. The fields of education and business, Tom says, are going to change over time. He hopes their gifts will grant the university, the Wisconsin School of Business, and the School of Education flexibility as focuses change in each respective field.

“We are fortunate to have the support of Karen and Tom Falk,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “They have shown incredible dedication to UW–Madison, and this gift will benefit many future Badgers in years to come.”