Longtime donors support undergraduate experience through scholarships

An older couple smiles together inside a banquet hall.
Jill Kreutzer and Leigh Towill at the CHHS annual Homecoming and Donor Recognition Breakfast to acknowledge and celebrate donors’ generosity.

Jill Kreutzer and Leigh Towill, longtime donors and friends of Colorado State University, deeply value undergraduate students and support the unique values of the College of Health and Human Sciences.

“We believe giving to the college is a way to honor that which is important to us,” said Kreutzer.

Together Kreutzer and Towill fund or contribute to three different scholarships related to the College of Health and Human Sciences: the CHHS Kreutzer/Towill Scholarship for International Study; the Oltjenbruns/Kreutzer Undergraduate Development Scholarship for students in Human Development and Family Studies; and the Margaret B. Hansen Memorial Scholarship.

A long history with CSU

Towill completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his graduate degrees from the University of Michigan. For more than 20 years, he was a research scientist with USDA, at what was then called the National Seed Storage Lab on CSU’s campus. During that time, he was also an affiliate faculty member with the Department of Horticulture within the College of Agriculture.

Kreutzer, however, is the third of four generations in her family to attend CSU. Her life has long been intertwined with Fort Collins and with CSU. As a child, she remembers her family gathering at homecoming and her excitement when it was time for the annual lighting of the Aggie “A” and the homecoming parade.

A woman smiles and pets a corgi.
Kreutzer smiles at one of her pet corgis.

“I have been affiliated with CSU all my life,” said Kreutzer. “It seems I have always been here. In some way nearly everyone in my family is connected with it. It is a comfortable place for us.”

This is still true for Kreutzer and Towill, who regularly enjoy early morning walks with their two Corgis on campus.

“The Oval is a special place, it never changes,” Kreutzer said. “It reflects so much of what CSU means.”

Kreutzer received her undergraduate degree in child development from CSU and eventually became an integral part of the faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. She served as the undergraduate coordinator, key adviser, an instructor and associate professor for 27 years; she did all this while simultaneously earning her Ph.D. from CSU.

Supporting undergraduates

Professionally, Kreutzer has always been a strong advocate for undergraduate education and support. Her work as an undergraduate coordinator and key adviser focused on student development and supporting students as they move through the complex and interrelated issues of academics, careers and personal decision making.

Two women smiling and working in an office. One is holding an old phone, the other a folder of papers.
Jill Kreutzer (left) and Kevin Oltjenbruns (right) while working at CSU. The two started the Oltjenbruns/Kreutzer Undergraduate Development Scholarship to support undergraduates in Human Development and Family Studies

“The undergraduate years are times of tremendous growth and change,” said Kreutzer. “They are years that are exciting, confusing, overwhelming, and enriching – often all at the same time!”

Kreutzer shared that when she began working at CSU, undergraduates were typically perceived as fully developed adults who didn’t need much, if any, support.

“At times I felt I was on a Don Quixote kind of crusade for undergraduate programs,” she said. Fortunately, there were others in academic departments and in student affairs who aligned with this idea. “As professionals we deeply believed that the undergraduate years are a developmental experience, a time of significant growth and change.”

Through hard work, research, much commitment and collaboration, the understanding of the undergraduate experience has grown and changed. Kreutzer is proud to have been a part of that process.

Shared values

Kreutzer and Towill are committed to donating to CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences because they see many of their core values reflected in those of the college. Those values relate to the importance of education and science as they are applied to enhancing the lives of both individuals and the greater society. Kreutzer sees this clearly illustrated in her field of study, Human Development and Family Studies.

“The study of human development is a science, but within the application of that science it is a deep philosophical commitment to human growth and change throughout the life cycle,” she explained. “I see support of growth, development, continuity and change reflected in mission of our college and each of our departments.”

With regard to their international scholarship, it was important for Kreutzer and Towill to fund something that was meaningful to both of them. International travel, is an important aspect of their lives, but was something neither had the opportunity to do as students, Kreutzer said. There were few programs for studying abroad then and financial limitations were prohibitive.

“International travel changes a person forever, it enriches their world view and understanding that we are a global community,” said Kreutzer.

Because of this shared belief, Kreutzer and Towill decided to fund a scholarship hoping that students who dream about studying abroad seriously consider it as a possibility and work toward it becoming a reality. These days CSU offers many incredible opportunities for interested students.

Student scholarship recipient with donors
From left to right, Leigh Towill, Jill Kreutzer, Oltjenbruns/Kreutzer Undergraduate Development Scholarship student recipient, Kevin and Ken Oltjenbruns.

Kreutzer and Towill both agree that there is always a continual need to support undergraduate students, especially as expenses increase every year. They believe in giving to students who would have a hard time going to college or studying internationally because of financial limitations. Towill shared that as a student, he was the one who benefitted from the generosity of a specific scholarship donor who valued supporting undergraduate students; that person made a difference in his life direction.

“Universities are bastions of tradition,” explained Kreutzer, “but they also represent the future. This is reflected in the students and our investment in them.”

In 2014, Kreutzer was honored by the College of Health and Human Sciences Legacies Project. Learn more about Kreutzer’s history and her contributions to CSU on the Legacies Project website.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.