Seidlers establish $1 million scholarship endowment

Without scholarships, Mary Bowman Seidler ’61 and her twin brothers could not have attended Cornell College. Now she and her husband, Stanley Seidler, have given $1 million to create the Mary Bowman Seidler Endowed Scholarship, ensuring future students like the Seidler siblings will have the opportunity excel at the college.

Two students and a professor work on a lab experiment

“It’s payback time because scholarships enabled all three of us to be in college at the same time. That set the stage for the rest of our lives,” Seidler said. “Now I want to see as many others as possible have the opportunity we had and that’s why I decided to put this into action in my lifetime. Education is key to personal growth and is fundamental to a stable, progressive, free society.”

The Seidlers’ lead gift coincides with the announcement of the second phase of the Greater > Than Campaign, which will significantly increase Cornell’s endowment in strategic areas and allow the college to advance its curricular and co-curricular goals to create an even more dynamic learning community.

“Mary is a longtime and passionate leader among Cornellians.  She loves her school; Stan’s and her gift challenges others to invest in Cornell’s students through the endowment,” said Cornell President Jonathan Brand. “We are grateful that the Seidler Endowed Scholarship will make it possible for many more students to excel at Cornell, in their careers, and in their communities, just as Mary has.”

Seidler worked at Harris Bank in Chicago for nearly 20 years, leaving as vice president when she relocated to Des Moines. She was Cornell’s first female student body president, served as a Trustee from 1989 to 2005, and is now a Life Trustee. She has been particularly active in the arts, and is an honorary trustee of the Des Moines Art Center; honorary director and past president of the Des Moines Metro Opera board; and lifetime director of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Stanley Seidler is president of Excell Brands in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Seidlers’ past support includes the Delt Lecture endowment; renovations to King Chapel, the Garner President’s House, and Law Hall; and the Fine Arts Campaign, which Mary chaired. Mary and her siblings also established the Roy and Grace Bowman Endowed Scholarship in honor of their parents, also Cornell alumni.

“What is more exciting in life than being able to nurture young people? That’s the best investment that one could possibly make,” Seidler said. “In fact I feel very strongly that if one has had help along the way there is a moral obligation within one’s capacity to make dreams possible for successive generations. What better legacy could there be?”