When David Ward enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in the 1970s, then called Wisconsin State University-Platteville, he had no way of knowing how much attending the university would impact his life. Now, 47 years after graduating from UW-Platteville, Ward has shown a long-time commitment to the university in a number of ways throughout the years, including teaching, creating a scholarship and most recently, adding an estate gift to his plans.
“There are three things, outside family, that made me who I am,” said Ward. “Being born and raised on a farm, which taught me hard work; growing up in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, a supportive community that especially supports its youth; and majoring in agriculture at UW-Platteville.”
It was Ward’s high school guidance counselor who urged him to take a campus visit to UW-Platteville in the fall of 1970, when Ward was a senior in high school. With the Pioneer football team doing great that year, Ward described the campus as alive, as his future Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity brother, Jim Jarvis, showed him around. Paired with the fact that he found UW-Madison too big and he had plans to be a college wrestler, Ward chose to attend UW-Platteville. It was here that Ward not only made a number of lifelong friendships but also met his wife.
As Ward reminisced about his time at UW-Platteville, he fondly remembered those who impacted his education. Ward described many of his professors as being four to five years out of graduate school and just getting started. He recalled that while he learned a lot from books, he learned even more from his professors, the people he met and those he networked with constantly.
Upon graduation, Ward worked alongside his father on their family farm for ten years before taking over upon his father’s retirement. He was elected to the school board for a couple of years, when a state representative approached him and asked him to take his place. Ward was elected and served as a representative of the 37th Assembly district for 14 years, continuing to farm for the first several years.
Throughout the years, Ward has continued to maintain many of his UW-Platteville friendships, having get-togethers with anywhere from five to 25 of those friends once to twice a month. Ward said those friendships reinforce the experience he had at UW-Platteville, making it a truly special place for him.
When his father passed away a few years ago, Ward honored his wish for his estate to be put towards a charitable cause and created the David Ward Agriculture Scholarship at UW-Platteville. Ward recently announced that he also plans to leave UW-Platteville and his scholarship in his estate plans.
Although Ward retired five years ago, he has still been making the 96-mile drive to UW-Platteville to teach agricultural policies, which he has done since 2007.
“I’ve enjoyed teaching and visiting with students, as many as 30 and as little as 11 or 12, freshmen to non-traditional,” said Ward. “In talking with students, they’ve enjoyed that I discuss different policies in agriculture and how I lived them in legislature and have true life experience in what I teach.”
This is Ward’s last semester teaching. Upon retiring, he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife at their vacation home in Hayward, Wisconsin.
To learn more about planned giving at UW-Platteville, visit uwplatt.giftplans.org.