Group photo with Schmalz

Why We Give: Doug Schmalz

Thursday, November 9, 2017


The most important reason Doug Schmalz, chairman of the board at Hickory Point Bank & Trust in Decatur, Illinois, and emeritus CFO of Archer Daniels Midland, believes in giving back is that he was taught to do so as a child. “I thank my parents for that because giving back is a most rewarding experience for me as I believe it was for them,” he says.

Currently, located in Illinois, Schmalz is far from the Carlson School, but his admiration for it knows no distance. “I graduated with an excellent education from the University School of Business before it ever became the Carlson School,” he says. “I certainly was not the most intelligent student in my class of 1967. But with a solid education, including great faculty who guided me to make decisions and not look back, I believed and proved to myself that success was achievable. The School of Business was the cornerstone upon which I built my confidence and beliefs.”

Schmalz and his wife, Margaret, have given small donations periodically for many years, but they really became more interested in scholarship funding late in 2005. That’s when they established the Schmalz Family Undergraduate Scholarship Fund. But that was not enough, so in 2009, the Douglas and Margaret Schmalz Study Abroad Scholarship Fund was created. Through 2016, 28 scholars have benefited from these two funds. Last year, they increased the undergraduate scholarship fund by $1 million, which will be fully funded by 2023 and support 20 undergraduate scholars annually.

When he was a student, Schmalz was able to put himself through school without picking up any debt. “By working summer jobs, I was able to earn enough money to get through the next school year,” he says. “In today’s world, with the increase in education costs, a student cannot pay for an education on their own without the help of parent funding, student loans, or scholarships.”

Since increasing their investment in 2016, the Schmalz’s will have four four-year scholarship students this year. Last month, they held their annual Schmalz Scholar Dinner Gathering. “This allows Peg and I to keep in touch with our scholar students during their education process and we look forward to getting to know them better,” he says. “Besides using these dinners to get better acquainted, we plan to hopefully instill in our student scholars a ‘give it back’ attitude so they understand the need to give it back and the good feelings one gets for doing so. It should be quite a dinner party when we get to full funding and 20 students in each year.”

Schmalz believes that philanthropy is a very private matter and everyone gives in different ways and for different reasons. “I am not qualified to say why any other person should or should not invest in the Carlson School,” he says. “However, I know why I invest in the Carlson School and its student scholars. It is because I received an excellent education from the school and it makes us feel good about ourselves to help others be successful at achieving the same. And, we believe it is an investment in the future of the world.”