$1 million gift to benefit UWM’s investment management, nursing programs

UWM - Lubar School of Business

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has received a $1 million gift to provide students in its investment management program with real investing experience.

Denise Elfe, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee alumna, made the pledge to the school’s Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business in honor of her late husband, Baird Advisors co-founder Gary Elfe, also a UWM alumnus.

The gift establishes the Elfe Family Business Fund, which will provide students in the Lubar School’s Investment Management Certificate Program with a pool of funds with which to gain experience and expertise in investment practices. Proceeds of these investments will be used for the program’s operating expenses and to create the Elfe Family Nursing Grant Fund, which will provide emergency financial assistance to undergraduates enrolled in the College of Nursing.

“I am deeply moved by Denise Elfe’s generous gift honoring her husband’s life’s work,” UWM chancellor Mark Mone said. “Gary was a star alumnus, and we are proud of his accomplishments. By establishing these funds, Denise has created a powerful tribute to Gary that will help students gain valuable experience and keep them on the road to success.”

The Lubar students will begin investing in their portfolio later this year. The first Elfe Family Nursing Grants will likely be awarded in fall 2022.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the Elfe family for establishing the Elfe Family Nursing Grant Fund,” said College of Nursing dean Kim Litwack. “This gift will have a deep, long-lasting impact on student success, resulting in a well-prepared nursing workforce in Wisconsin.”

Denise, who graduated in 1977 with a BFA in theater education, and Gary, who graduated with a bachelor’s in economics in 1976 and MBA in 1978, met while they were students at UWM. Gary served on the Investment Management Certificate Program’s advisory board for almost 10 years and guest lectured on various topics.

“Gary’s priority was that our students have a top-flight education,” said Kevin Spellman, the David O. Nicholas Director of Investment Management. “For him, it was imperative that students not only develop a solid knowledge of the fundamentals, but also have the opportunity to manage real money portfolios during their two years in the program.”

Gary, who died in November, was also connected to the College of Nursing personally, after discovering during his hospital stays awhile battling Parkinson’s that many of his nurses were UWM nursing alumni.

“He was really delighted when he discovered that they were UWM graduates like us,” Denise said. “I just know that Gary would have liked to help both investment management students and the next generation of nursing students in obtaining the financial support they need to succeed.”

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