The Thomas J. And Charlene P. Gaard Endowed Residency


Thomas Gaard (right) meets with Mark Putnam to discuss the Thomas J. and Charlene P. Gaard Endowed Residency in the Liberal Arts.

Central College received a significant gift to establish the Thomas J. and Charlene P. Gaard Endowed Residency in the Liberal Arts. The signature residency is intended to benefit Central College students, faculty, staff and the greater Pella community.

Scholars in residence will allow Central to host notable visitors on campus to serve in multi-day residencies in which they will interact with students, the wider campus and Pella-area communities. The integrated learning opportunities for faculty and students will reflect the liberal arts emphasis of the college, enhance the overall education received by students and make it possible for participants to engage in meaningful and up-close exchanges with known experts over an extended period of time instead of through a one-time speaking engagement.

“When Mark Putnam first shared the concept of the scholar in residence program with me I knew it could have real impact, not only for the students, but also for the entire Central community,” Thomas says. “The idea of annually bringing a notable person or persons to campus to interact with the students and community for an extended period of time makes real sense to me. It will go beyond just having a speaker for 30 minutes. It will be full engagement for several days with a known expert across a wide spectrum of topics and academic disciplines. It will be liberal arts at its best and I’m very happy to have a part in making it happen at Central.”

Gaard, a 1961 graduate of Central College, lives in Clive and is a retired senior vice president of Principal Financial Group. The residency, which bears his name and that of his late wife Charlene, will be funded through both annual and endowment giving over the next five years. The first signature residency is expected to occur next fall with a second one anticipated to follow in the academic spring semester.

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