Alumni Outlook Magazine


LONG-DISTANCE COMMITMENT

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Linda Arzoumanian ’64 flies in from Tucson, Ariz. Todd Ellis ’86 comes from Boston. Robert McCord B.S. ’70, M.S. ’71 arrives from Las Vegas.

Three times a year these three UW-Stout alumni make the long trip to Menomonie and their alma mater. Unlike many alumni, however, they don’t come back just to socialize with former classmates or because they long to visit their old collegiate stomping grounds.

As members of the Stout University Foundation Board of Directors, they return for two-day board meetings to help make a difference at the institution that has had a lasting impact on their lives.

Arzoumanian, Ellis and McCord are among those who travel the farthest for Foundation meetings. Like all 22 other board members, they do it at their own expense while fitting it into their busy schedules.

Arzoumanian has a home economics degree from UW-Stout. She is an elected official as Pima County School superintendent. She oversees 17 school districts, which funnel $1.6 billion through her office. She manages all school elections, assists in setting districts’ tax rates and maintains a database of 36,000 for teacher certification, along with other duties that are set in statute.

Ellis has an art degree with an industrial design concentration. He is head of the International Group-Strategic Initiatives Footwear for Puma. He manages the company’s Advanced Research and Development Team, leads corporate sustainability for issues related to footwear and coordinates legal management for footwear product design.

McCord has degrees from UW-Stout in industrial education and American industry and a master’s in school guidance and counseling. He was assistant superintendent of the Clark County School District in the Las Vegas area, retiring in 1999. He was a professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, retiring in 2011. He runs a consulting firm and is research professor-in-residence at the American Associate of School Administrators in Washington, D.C., along with other related activities.

While the three of them make some of the longest trips for Foundation meetings, other board members travel from Virginia, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and from around Wisconsin.

Tom Kornegor ’68, for example, of Lake Elmo, Minn., travels a relatively short distance from the eastern Twin Cities metro area to UW-Stout, but he makes dozens of trips a year because of his duties as president of the Foundation board.

Arzoumanian (10 years on the board), Ellis (one year) and McCord (four years) were asked recently about their long-distance commitment to UW-Stout.

Members of the Stout University Foundation board met in April on campus. The board typically meets three times a year.

What motivated you to serve on the Foundation board?

Arzoumanian: “Stout provided me for the launching of at least one career, if not more. It was respectful of my need to blend hands-on learning with intellectual endeavor.”

Ellis: “It was the opportunity to serve as the first board member who graduated from the art and design department.”

McCord: “I wanted to serve the institution that had served me so well. It’s time to give back.”

How do you explain to people, such as your family or co-workers, that you travel a great distance to volunteer in this capacity?

Arzoumanian: “They know it is my passion to give back whether to the schools I attended or my community.”

Ellis: “Just as many employment responsibilities, serving as a board member requires travel for some meetings. The results that can be achieved in these face-to-face meetings far exceed any of the inconveniences.”

McCord: “It is a small price to pay if, as we believe, the service provided returns dividends to the university. One should always measure their volunteer service by those impacted — Stout students — rather than your own benefit and necessary sacrifices. When the equation flips, you should make room for a more able volunteer.”

How has serving on the board been a rewarding experience?

Arzoumanian: “I have been able to network with some really great people.  It has also provided me a leadership opportunity outside my community.”

Ellis: “The opportunity to give back is what I find rewarding.”

McCord: “I like to give money away! I like helping students who otherwise would not be able to attend the university.”

What was it about your UW-Stout educational experience that makes you want to give back?

Arzoumanian: “I had some of the most caring professors, instructors, teachers in the world. They were always available to chat with or for counsel. They cared. I was also able to work my way through school, having at least three jobs at a time.”

Ellis: “The education that I received at Stout gave me the practical, common sense tools to become successful. Because of these successes, I am inclined to share and support others in new opportunities. From an outside perspective, serving as a board member allows me access to assist and guide the university in those new opportunities. It’s all about creating possibilities.”

McCord: “Both my wife (Kathleen Campbell ’70) and I had mentors at Stout. This is all about an adult making a commitment to a young person. The impact of that small kindness is NEVER forgotten and imprints the young person for life.”

What is a favorite memory of UW-Stout?

Arzoumanian: “Although I have a lot of incredible memories of Stout there are two that stand out above all others. I had a leading part in a play that told the story of Joan of Arc. While I had always done costume and set design and been a gofer, I had never had an acting part. I was the only female lifeguard during the years I was at Stout.”

Ellis: “My favorite student memory of Stout is the strong camaraderie and competition that existed with classmates and faculty in the art and design department. Many of those friendships continue to exist today.”

McCord: “My relationship with Merle Price and my wife’s relationship with Florence Blank.”

What are your thoughts on how UW-Stout has changed and where it’s headed today?

Arzoumanian: “I like the fact that Stout stays current while at the same time keeping the small-college atmosphere. The 98 percent job placement is amazing. Winning the Baldrige Award showed how special Stout continues to be in academic circles.”

Ellis: “Specifically in the area of art and design, the university has recently made long-needed improvements by adding a master’s program, changing concentrations into degrees and advancing the degree offerings to be inclusive of new areas of design. I find this to be a positive and necessary approach in the evolution of business, student and university needs for success.”

McCord: “We were the last of a generation of students prepared in traditional Stout programs. Those programs served us very well, but this is a new time and I applaud the efforts of the university to reshape its offerings to allow students to make a contribution to the world as it presently exists. The chancellor and faculty should be congratulated for their courage to free the university from its outdated but honorable traditions and cement a future for its students in programs that meet the competitive needs of the job market they face. The Stout University Foundation has a role in making this possible.”