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1949 Mining School grad gives UWPlatteville its largest gift
Pictured are (front, from left) College of Engineering, Math and Science assistant dean for outreach and new ventures Philip Parker, Arthur Masbruch, interim College of EMS dean Mesut Meslu, (back) Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association president Kevin McMullen, professor emeritus of civil engineering Thomas Nelson, and assistant chancellor for advancement Dennis Cooley, executive director of the UW-Platteville Foundation. - photo by Photo by Andy McNeill

Arthur Masbruch gave UW–Platteville a Homecoming memory when he donated the largest gift in university history, a total described as a multi-million dollar gift.

Masbruch, 89, drove in from Denver for Homecoming weekend Oct. 10–12, and he was honored at the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science banquet Oct. 10, the football game Oct. 11, and in a small ceremony in Ullsvik Hall Oct. 13.

Masbruch’s combination of cash and estate gift actually became three large gifts, establishing the Masbruch Scholarship, beginning the Academic Excellence Fund, and starting the Masbruch Center that will benefit civil engineering students, especially those readying themselves for the concrete industry.

“In my five years as chancellor at UW–Platteville, I have been fortunate to develop relationships with so many of our alumni and friends, including getting to know Arthur Masbruch,” said Chancellor Dennis J. Shields. “Whether visiting him in Denver or here on campus, I have been struck by his commitment to educating the next generation of civil engineers, especially those working in the concrete industry.

“With his generous donations of a new center, and scholarship and fellowship opportunities, Art has taken a huge stride in ensuring those students learn from the very best at UW–Platteville. I, and the university, thank him for investing in the future of not only our university, but the many, many companies our graduates will strengthen.”

Masbruch earned a three-year mining certificate from the Wisconsin Mining School in 1949. (The Wisconsin Mining School eventually merged with the Platteville State Teachers College in 1959 to form what is now UW–Platteville.) Prior to attending college, Masbruch was a tail gunner in the U.S. Air Force, earning the rank of sergeant. Upon graduating, he began working in various construction companies and also kept up with one of his passions, downhill skiing.

“I was a pretty good skier, but I couldn’t quite beat the Olympic skiers,” he said.

Instead, Masbruch served as the technical delegate at high-caliber races for 15 years, serving as advisor for pre-race and race events. His skiing experiences helped him earn his first patent. In 1964, he patented a rescue sled for transporting injured people or loads over snow and ice-covered terrain.

The entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish his own concrete company, Art Ash Research and Training Co. in Denver. Masbruch encouraged his workers to challenge conventional wisdom. “Too many people go through their routine day after day without thinking about what they are doing,” he said.

Developing critical thinkers is one of the main reasons Masbruch established his scholarship, with annual awards of at least $5,000 each to students who achieve at least 2.75 grade-point averages and have demonstrated financial needs. Preferences will be given those who participate in extracurricular activities, hold down campus jobs, are Platteville High School graduates or are majoring in engineering. The Academic Excellence Fund will award fellowships of at least $5,000 for students working in the Masbruch Center.

“The GI Bill really helped me,” said Masbruch in explaining the importance of giving back to undergraduates. “This will be similar help to students.”

“We are extremely grateful for Art and his continued love for the university,” said Dennis Cooley, UW–Platteville’s assistant chancellor for Advancement and executive director of the UW–Platteville Foundation. “Words cannot adequately express our appreciation for what his generosity will mean. These gifts will lead to more opportunities and more partnerships with the business communities.”

Kevin McMullen, president of the Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association, and a UW–Platteville alumnus, said he is excited about educating students who can advance the industry.

“We need more high-end concrete experts,” said McMullen. “I see a lot of critical thinking from the UW–Platteville graduates.”

The Masbruch Center will allow for both hands-on experience in the field and theory work in the classroom.

“Arthur Masbruch has started something that students and faculty will benefit from for a long, long time,” said Dr. Mesut Muslu, interim dean of the College of EMS. “We thank him for this tremendous opportunity.”

Masbruch kept the total amount of the gifts quiet. “It’s not important what I’ve gained or what I have,” he said. “It’s important what I do with it.”