Loyal Community Members
Monday, January 25, 2010
Art and Barb Grachek use the word “community” in its most embracing sense. Their communities include the St. Cloud metro area, St. Cloud State, sports fans, art and music lovers, and students, alumni and friends around the world. They support each of their communities with gifts of their time, talent and financial resources.
Both are alumni and university retirees. Art (B.S., 1962, and M.S. 1964) served as chair of the Department of Speech Communication after earning a Ph.D. at Wayne State University and Barb (B.S. 1962 and M.S. 1963) earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and held numerous leadership positions during her career, culminating as vice president of academic affairs.
The Gracheks’ concern for students is a hallmark of both their careers and volunteerism.
“The University brings them in as freshmen, and works hard to retain them,” explains Art, who notes that St. Cloud State offers a wide range of support systems for students, especially first-generation college students. “St. Cloud State keeps classes small, hires faculty who are committed to teaching and advising and encourages students to participate in activities.”
Former first-generation college students themselves, they readily cite research that says students who participate in activities like debating, athletics or music, are more likely to stay in college.
In addition to their professional and continuing volunteer contributions, the Gracheks have given generously to the University since 1978, putting them among the St. Cloud State’s most loyal donors.
“With any organization, the people who work there really need to show others their commitment to the institution … it’s not just a place where you collect your check,” says Barb. Their most recent gifts include support for athletics and international student assistance.
In 2004, the Gracheks established the Arthur and Barbara Grachek Study Abroad Scholarship in Communication Studies, an endowed fund that has provided support to seven students since its inception. “This is often students’ first opportunity to travel abroad,” explains Barb. “They gain a sense of confidence, self sufficiency, and grow academically by seeing a much more diverse world and working with different people. … It’s a life changer for them.”