Outlook Magazine - Fall 2019
L ike many UW-Stout graduates, Tracy and Kerry Hafner look back fondly at their years on campus — the friendships they made, professors who made a difference in their lives, the education that laid the foundation for their careers. When their diplomas were handed out — Tracy 1981, Kerry 1982 — they headed down the highway to put that education to good use. In their case, however, UW-Stout never fully disappeared from their rearview mirror. Appreciative of the experiences they had — they met as freshmen and married in 1983 — the university always has been a special place to them. It’s why, as they approach their retirement years, they’ve chosen to bookend their lives by committing to UW-Stout a second time. This time the Hafners, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., are paying it forward to other students. They have created two endowments in applied mathematics and computer science, a scholarship named after one of Kerry’s professors, Nasser Hadidi, and a professional development fund for faculty. In addition, they have provided ongoing support for Blue Devil football and have made an estate commitment to Stout University Foundation. “We’ve done well in our careers and have the financial wherewithal to give something back,” Kerry said, noting they plan to return to campus in September for the Foundation’s annual scholarship reception. Almost 40 years later, Hafners are committed to the university
Tracy grew up in the Minneapolis area and graduated in home economics with a business concentration. Her career has been in mortgage banking, currently with Central Bank Co. in Kansas City. Kerry, from Milwaukee, graduated in applied mathematics then went to the University of North Carolina, earning master’s and Ph.D. degrees in biostatistics. He applied after Hadidi made him aware of UNC’s highly regarded program. “It changed my life completely,” Kerry said, noting he received a prestigious federal grant from UNC that paid his tuition and provided a job. Kerry is a senior vice president at PRA Health Sciences, overseeing federally regulated human trials for new drugs. “It all goes back to the things I learned at UW-Stout and North Carolina. I use them every day,” he said. Some of their fondest memories of UW-Stout revolve around football. Kerry was a standout tight end, inducted into the school Hall of Fame. Tracy and friends went to every game, piling into her station wagon for road games. In 1982, Kerry was signed by the Green Bay Packers as a free agent and made it to the second-to-last roster cut on Coach Bart Starr’s squad before the season began. Recently, the Hafners, who have two sons, hosted a Stout Alumni Association event in the Kansas City area and hope to see it grow. “Everybody had the same sentiment of great memories and a good education,” Tracy said.
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