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Planning Ahead to Leave a Legacy

Donors who make planned gifts to Northwestern provide lasting resources that sustain students, faculty and research.

Planned gifts advance research in areas such as artificial intelligence and big data.Image: Image courtesy of Jessie Ku and Professor Chad Mirkin

Spring 2023

What does it mean to leave a legacy? For Rosemary Bruzek Schnell ’54, an endlessly curious kindergarten teacher, it meant creating ways for Northwestern researchers to push the frontiers of science and technology. For businessman Stan Gradowski ’60, ’62 MBA, a first-generation college student, it meant investing in programs across the University to benefit future students and faculty. 

Both Schnell and Gradowski — who passed away in 2021 and 2020, respectively — left significant bequests to Northwestern that will make an impact for years to come.   

As a teacher in Niles, Ill., Schnell touched many lives. Friends remember her as a constant learner who also was an active volunteer and philanthropist. Schnell followed Northwestern’s research accomplishments with keen interest, especially the work of the International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN). Before her death, she made a bequest in her estate plans to create the Rosemary Schnell Fund for Innovation and Technology at IIN, aiming to help scientists find solutions to pressing problems in medicine, energy and the environment.  


Living donors who have included Northwestern in their estate plans 


Amount of planned gift commitments made by current Rogers Society members 


Percentage of planned gift commitments that will benefit financial aid and fellowships 


“Nanotechnology is an exciting, interdisciplinary field — one where Northwestern’s leadership has already made phenomenal progress, with even greater potential to come,” says Chad Mirkin, IIN director and the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry. “Rosemary understood this, and her bequest will allow us to direct resources to nanotechnology innovators who can revolutionize areas ranging from cancer treatment to environmental protection.” 

Like Schnell, Gradowski chose to support his alma mater through his estate plan. The only child of immigrant parents, the Chicago-area native earned two business degrees at Northwestern before working for many years at the Tribune Company as a vice president and corporate secretary. He was a lifelong supporter of Northwestern Athletics and attended many basketball and football games. 

“Mr. Gradowski’s generosity, dedication and passion will make a difference for generations of Wildcats student-athletes.” — Dr. Derrick Gragg

Gradowski wanted to create opportunities for students and faculty that would last beyond his lifetime. His bequest established funds to support academics for student-athletes. He also established a fund for medical research, professorships and student life programs.   

“Mr. Gradowski’s generosity, dedication and passion will make a difference for generations of Wildcats student-athletes,” says Dr. Derrick Gragg, the Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation. “His gift to Athletics will help accelerate student-athlete progress toward graduation and athletic excellence by funding summer quarter expenses, including tuition.” 

To create a strong foundation for the future, many donors name the University as a beneficiary in a will or living trust, retirement plan or other payable on death account. Others set up charitable gift annuities or remainder trusts, which provide income to individual beneficiaries. Alumni and friends from 49 states and seven countries belong to the Henry and Emma Rogers Society, which recognizes those who include Northwestern in their estate plans. 

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