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Giving back what they received

April 14, 2014

An alumni couple’s transformational travel experience inspires them to support students studying abroad

By: Jacob Cummer | April 8th, 2014

Carl and Claire Stuart’s shared journey began on the University of Iowa campus. Nearly 45 years and thousands of miles later, that journey continues.

The Stuarts, who are from Iowa—Carl from Keokuk, Claire from Waterloo—met while they were students at the UI. After graduating in 1969—Carl with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Claire with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education—they set off for Peru to teach English in the Andes armed only with what Carl calls “the wonderful ignorance of youth.” The experience changed their lives.

“You see the world differently when you spend time abroad,” says Claire. “You see the similarities, which helps create less of a ‘them and us’ feeling about other cultures. Our experience was transformational.”

After returning from Peru, the Stuarts lived and worked in Waterloo, Iowa. But after a few years—and the birth of two of their three children—they knew their road pointed elsewhere. Thanks to the worldview their Peru experience provided them, they had the courage to follow it.

The Stuarts eventually settled in Austin, Texas, where Carl now owns a successful investment management company, hosts a radio show called “Money Talk,” and teaches courses at the University of Texas. After welcoming their third child, Claire took time off from teaching elementary school, but later returned to work as a counselor specializing in the treatment of adolescents. She is now retired.

Despite the years since graduation, and the miles that separate them from campus, Iowa remains an integral part of the Stuarts’ lives. So much so, in fact, that the couple recently made gift of $250,000 to establish the Claire and Carl Stuart Study Abroad Scholarship Fund, which will support international travel experiences for students in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). Previous support from the Stuarts includes a 2003 gift to establish the Carl W. and Claire Field Stuart CLAS Excellence and Innovation Fund. Their support for CLAS is an expression of their belief in the value of the liberal arts and sciences.

The Stuarts’ gift to establish the Claire and Carl Stuart Study Abroad Scholarship Fund qualifies for Golden Pledge: A Presidential Partnership for Student Success, a matching program created by UI President Sally Mason in the fall of 2012. Read more about the Golden Pledge program.

“A good liberal arts and sciences education might not necessarily train you for one thing,” says Carl. “Instead, it gives you the tools to do a lot of things, and to deal with any circumstance as it arises in your life.”

UI President Sally Mason says the Stuarts’ newest gift will help Iowa provide valuable global experiences for students. “At Iowa, part of our mission is to prepare students to be citizens and leaders of a global society,” says Mason. “Gifts like this will help us provide students with valuable real-world experiences and international understanding.”

The Stuarts also continue to contribute to the UI through their leadership, serving as co-chairs for the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ portion of For Iowa. Forever More: The Campaign for the University of Iowa.

“Really, those four years we spent at the University of Iowa were a lot more than just four years,” says Claire. “A huge part of who I am to this day began there.”

To learn more about how gifts support transformational experiences for students in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, visit the UI Foundation CLAS website.