Foundation board elects new trustees

Former members of the University give back by volunteering their time and money.

Elizabeth Cook

Some prominent community members donate time and money years after they leave the University, just to say thank you or to better the state. Recently, some took positions to encourage more people to give back.

In early November, the University of Minnesota Foundation Board elected two new officers and four new members, bringing its total to 41 trustees.

The board manages and raises donations that are made throughout the year.

Mikael Peluso, the director of marketing and communication services at the foundation, said about 90,000 donors a year provides financial support to the University.

“The University depends on private support to achieve a measure of excellence in many areas,” he said.

Some of the donations go to scholarships, he said. Others donate to research and outreach programs within specific colleges.

Gerald Fischer, the president and chief executive officer of the foundation, said existing members nominate trustees to the board. Trustees are expected to provide one or all of the three Ws: “wealth, wisdom or work.”

The foundation looks for informed advocates of the University who have various and diverse networks, he said.

Newly elected vice-chairman Elliot Kaplan, 69, is a partner with Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi, a national corporate and business litigation law firm.

Kaplan graduated from the University Law School in 1961.

He said he’s a trustee because the education he received allowed him to advance in life.

“Now that I have been able to be somewhat successful, I believe I should give back to the University,” he said.

Kaplan has also been involved with the University outside of the foundation.

Five years ago, he started a capital campaign for the law school that raised approximately $50 million, he said. Because of his commitment, the University awarded him the Outstanding Achievement Award in 2002.

He also was the president of the University Law School Alumni Association.

He and his wife, who is also a University alumna, created a large scholarship fund at the law school for students of color.

The couple is also part of the Presidents Club, which is made up of the University’s major donors.

Kaplan said this is going to be his first time as an officer on the board, but his fourth year as a member.

University life aside, Kaplan is also a large contributor to the Minneapolis area by being on the board of directors for Best Buy, a board member for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and on the executive board for the Minnesota Historical Society, he said.

Kaplan will be working on the board with re-elected chairman Fred Friswold, 69,

who is the chief executive officer of the Plymouth-based Tonka Equipment Company, which installs water treatment systems.

Friswold graduated from the University in 1958 with an undergraduate degree in business and finance.

He served on the board for 18 years and this is his second year as chairman.

“I like working on things that help people, particularly that help things get better in (people’s) lives,” Friswold said. “Most of my community activities rely around education or youth development.”

Aside from the University, he said he’s heavily involved in the Minneapolis Metro YMCA.

He’s also been involved in the University of Minnesota Medical Foundation through the Pediatrics department and was the president of the University Alumni Association from 1987 to 1988.

He said he shares the same way of thinking with most people who volunteer.

“Most people who contribute their time and money to institutions have a desire to improve the world and a willingness to contribute,” he said.

Friswold was one of the key players in the development of the east end of the East Bank, Fischer said. He helped with the McNamara Alumni Center, Gateway Plaza and the Scholar’s Walk.