Paying it Forward

Robert "Bob" Karl smiling Education and learning have always been important to Robert "Bob" Karl. He said, "The solid foundation that MSOE provided was paramount to the success of my career-but the real key was the ability to solve problems."

Karl graduated in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. After graduation, he began his career at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He spent 12 years in engineering and 20 years in program management and control. "My largest role was leading the development and implementation of an integrated cost and schedule control system that was used on programs from less than $1 million to half a billion dollars in size."

As his career evolved, he recognized the need to keep reinventing himself to stay current with technology and the latest management trends. He earned an MBA and a master's degree in computer science from the University of Iowa.

The Fond du Lac, Wis., native was raised in a blue-collar family, and with five siblings, there was very little money available for higher education. Without the financial aid that MSOE provided Karl, he would have been unable to attend the university. Karl and his wife Lynda recently began examining their estate plan and have decided to pay it forward by funding student scholarships. "While we will leave money to other endeavors, I personally cannot think of a better way to use our residual funds than to give MSOE students the opportunities that I had."

When asked what he would say to other alumni who are considering making a financial contribution to MSOE, Karl said, "Giving is a very personal thing. I would not try to persuade someone else. However, I would ask them to consider what they have gained from attending MSOE and what opportunities were offered to them that they could now reciprocate."

His advice for current MSOE students is to "Have fun while you are in college but, do not squander your opportunity. It is important to you, the country and all of us. I know that sounds lame and cliché. But I believe every word of it."

Now that Karl has retired, he is looking forward to spending as much time as possible at his cabin on the Cedar River, and resuming the study and collection of antiques. One of his antique interests is his 35-year collection of butter prints which are on display in his cabin. In the 19th century, butter prints were used by farm families as an early form of advertising and branding for their butter. Karl said, "The best butter prints were hand carved by craftsman or the farmers themselves. At their best they are exquisite examples of folk art."

For more information about including MSOE in your estate planning, contact Ted Fitzpatrick, director of planned giving, at (414) 277-7148 or

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Milwaukee School of Engineering a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Milwaukee School of Engineering, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 1025 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to MSOE or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSOE as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSOE as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and MSOE where you agree to make a gift to MSOE and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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