An enduring part of St. Cloud State fabric
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
For more than 30 years, Professor Emeritus Merle Sykora ’65 was part of the fabric of St. Cloud State life. Now, his planned estate gift will ensure that the legacy of this teacher, nationally recognized textile artist and interior designer will be woven into the experiences of generations of students to come.
Sykora came to St. Cloud State as a graduate assistant in 1964 and, except for a brief respite for post-doctoral work, stayed on until his retirement in 1996. Today, Sykora, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, and his partner, who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright, operate an interior design business in Minnesota and Arizona.
Sykora began giving to the University anonymously well before he retired. A portion of his giving supports the Merle Sykora Art Scholarship, which gives preference to art students planning to study abroad, especially in the Czech Republic. Sykora, who is half Czech, traveled to the area several times and helped establish St. Cloud State’s exchange program with Olomouc-Palacky University.
His gifts also support the Kiehle Art Gallery on campus, which exhibits the work of professional artists and faculty. “I’ve always felt that it was very important to have a gallery,” said Sykora, who as a teacher often used exhibits in the gallery as teaching opportunities. “We were constantly battling for enough funds to operate the gallery,” he remembered, explaining that this endowment fund will provide a permanent base of support for the gallery. Both funds are included in Sykora’s estate plans.
“St. Cloud State was very good to me, and I’ve always had a very strong commitment to giving back to the University,” said Sykora, a long-time President’s Club member. “Why not continue to give back at the point of my death?”