UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

Robert and Paul Dykstra Story

The Robert Dykstra and Paul Dykstra Faculty Excellence Endowment


When Paul Dykstra (’83) first approached his father with the idea of giving a generous gift to the UWRF Foundation, both he and his father, Robert (’57), initially thought of establishing an endowed scholarship fund.

Both had received several scholarships while students at UWRF, and the idea seemed natural. Students were a passion of Bob’s—from his days teaching in a one-room school in Wisconsin to lecturing to a class of 300 at the University of Minnesota.

As chief executive officer for Viad Corp., a publicly held exhibit, hospitality and tourism service provider, Paul is also very interested in giving back, both personally and professionally. 

“As [areas] grow, it is even more vital for companies to foster that growth by supporting the efforts of our communities,” he said in an article about corporate philanthropy in the Southwest.

The Dykstras met with UWRF Foundation officials, and became interested in the array of philanthropic opportunities available to them.

“We met with an open mind on what our contributions could be used for,” said Bob. “It became clear that Chancellor Don Betz was really interested in doing something for faculty. Since I did a lot of research at the U of M and I know that those funds are hard to come by at smaller universities, we decided that we would endow a faculty research fund to help recruit and retain faculty, especially those who have some interest in conducting research."

It’s the first time the father and son have collaborated on a university foundation gift.

“We both have a warm spot in our heart for UW-River Falls,” says Bob. “It really inspired both of us to go on and further our education.”

Paul Dykstra 

Paul Dykstra, '83

Robert Dykstra

Robert Dykstra, '57

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