From resident assistants to legacy gift donors

A lot has transpired in the 15 years since Bob ’09 and Renee ’11 (Wenig) Vickman met during his junior year and her freshman year at St. Norbert College. The constant throughout has been their commitment to supporting the college, which they recently cemented by making a gift plan in their new will.

While setting up a gift to be realized at the end of their lifetime may seem a little unusual for a couple in their mid-thirties, it made perfect sense for the Vickmans. They included a designated gift to St. Norbert College in the will they established as parents of two young boys, with another child on the way. This type of planning is an extension of the responsible mindsets Bob and Renee have displayed since he served as a resident assistant (RA) in Burke Hall and she in Michels Hall and Bergstrom Hall.

“Even before we got married, we had talked about how we would want to donate to St. Norbert when we were able,” Bob explains.

The Vickmans invested in an optional legal insurance benefit through Renee’s employer that covered the attorney’s fees for drafting the will. To their pleasant surprise, they found the process of including a future gift for the college as part of this planning to be remarkably easy.

“It seems even too easy to talk about in an article, to be honest,” Renee says. “It was thinking of our children that initiated our process of preparing a will. We reached out to a lawyer, and she asked us to list if there was any place that we wanted to donate financially. We knew St. Norbert would be involved because it was such a formative part of our young adult lives.”

The attorney suggested the Vickmans reach out to the advancement team at St. Norbert to discuss their plans, since it was likely that the college already had specific verbiage ready to use for this situation. That, in fact, is the case, as the advancement team provides preferred language that simplifies the process for donors and their legal representatives.

Renee then met with a member of the advancement team over lunch to get the ball rolling both for their will as well as the college’s documentation. The Vickmans spent some time developing the details of their legacy gift, and their attorney took care of the rest.

“I think it’s so important to make a will, especially if you have children,” Renee says. “We wanted to make sure we had a plan if something happened to both of us. Of course, we do not hope to use our plan while our children are young. You hear about so many families that do not have a plan in place, and in the cases when they need it, that would be really scary.”

Education takes a front seat in giving plans

Education has always been a major factor in Bob and Renee’s lives, and their legacy gift targets that aspect of the college’s program offerings. Renee’s attention has been education-focused for much of her life, capped off with a doctorate in cancer biology from Purdue University in 2017. She now works as a cancer research scientist for NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago.

Bob comes from a family of educators, including his mother, Patti (Marin) Vickman ’76, who was a teacher and then his elementary school principal. She later became superintendent of the Southern Door School District in Brussels, Wis. Bob’s father, Steve ’76, is also a St. Norbert graduate.

Bob started his teaching career at the high school level with five years at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay immediately after graduating from St. Norbert. He later earned a master’s degree from Loyola University and moved into elementary education. He currently serves as the principal at St. Stanislaus Kostka Academy, a pre-kindergarten through grade eight school in Chicago.

“I’ve benefited greatly from good educators, even in my early grades but especially at St. Norbert,” Renee says. “I think of the amazing faculty there and how much effort they put into dedicating all of their energy into really good teaching.”

To learn how you can make a difference like the Vickmans, the legacy and gift planning team is available to help you identify what leaving a legacy at SNC might mean to you. To get started, contact Kevin LeBeau, director of legacy and gift planning, 920-403-4059 or kevin.lebeau@snc.edu.