This week, we spotlight three June School Challenge donors—Paula Brown Pretlow, Carole Merrick Ringer, and Greg McKinney. The June School Challenge is an exciting opportunity for alumni to make an even bigger impact with their giving. Each of the generous donors above has challenged alumni to give to their schools—if donor goals are met, Paula, Carole, Greg, and other generous alumni have pledged to give a certain amount of money to their schools.
Paula Brown Pretlow ’77, ’78 MBA
For Paula Brown Pretlow, giving back to Northwestern and Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences has been an easy decision. “Northwestern propelled me in directions I didn’t even know existed,” she says. “The University brought out the best in me and offered me the chance to explore different worlds of possibility.”
While an undergraduate at NU, Paula took her first class with an African American professor, studied astronomy which led to a lifelong interest in the stars, and allowed her to experiment and find her way to business school and a 35-year career in investment management.
Paula remembers one of her very first professors at Northwestern—Professor Leon Forrest who taught a freshman literature course. “We had to write creatively in his class,” she says. “And that’s when I realized I had a voice and was encouraged to let that voice out. Just recognizing that there were opportunities at Northwestern for everyone to shine in his or her own way made a significant impact on me.”
Paula has remained committed to giving back to the University. On her campus visits, she has engaged with so many people excited about Northwestern’s trajectory, professors who are conducting life-changing research, and the exceptional students who will go on to make an impact on the world.
“I truly believe that with alumni support, Northwestern will become an even greater institution.”
Carole Merrick Ringer ’61, ’62 MMUS
"At the Bienen School of Music, I was afforded many opportunities within my major as a music education student,” says Carole Merrick Ringer. “I had the chance to participate in internships and student teaching across various performance areas.”
During her time at Bienen, Carole studied voice and violin, performed in opera productions, and worked backstage on the Waa-Mu Show. All of these experiences prepared her for her career, including teaching, serving as the manager of a regional orchestra, and staying involved in music in many other ways. “I’ve had the chance to have a career in music that has taken many forms.”
Now, as a member of the Bienen School’s Music Advisory Board, she has also established a scholarship fund and made gifts to the voice, choral, and string programs, which were so important to her as a student. “From the moment I entered Northwestern and the Bienen School of Music, I felt an immediate connection,” says Carole. “And since then, it has been a pleasure to stay engaged with the University every step of the way.”
Carole still enjoys coming back to campus and seeing all the wonderful changes.
“People sometimes take for granted the contributions that the arts make to our lives. If we don’t give back and support the performing artists of today and tomorrow—including students—we lose an invaluable aspect of our society.”
Greg McKinney ’81 MS
Greg McKinney attended Northwestern to pursue a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Science. Although he was considering other programs, he ultimately chose to study at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences because the program provided direct access to faculty and challenging projects working alongside highly motivated and collaborative classmates.
“Having worked with many analytics professionals during my career,” says Greg, “I frequently ask them about their academic backgrounds. I’ve come to the conclusion that my preparation at McCormick was second to none. Virtually every day I use ideas, concepts, and techniques I learned at McCormick.”
Not only did Greg have a great academic experience, he also took advantage of the other great aspects of University life. When he wasn't studying or in the classroom at Tech, he attended football games, concerts, art shows, plays, and lectures. “I organized several department teams for intramural sports—in fact we even came in second place in softball,” he says. “One of these days, we’ll have a rematch with the fraternity that beat us!”
Now as chair of the Murphy Society for McCormick, Greg sees the importance of alumni support—the direct impact of gifts on students and faculty. Murphy Society funds support projects proposed by faculty and students. The society allows its members to provide input to Dean Ottino about which projects most deserve that support. “It’s an incredible way not only to stay connected to McCormick, but also to have an influential voice determining its current priorities and shaping its long-term future,” says Greg. “I joke with Dean Ottino that I'm going to apply to return to Northwestern so that I can work on some of the amazing Murphy Society projects.”
Support your school or program in the June School Challenge by visiting: