Student Voice


June 20, 2024

Alumna leaves $1 million gift to UWRF

September 20, 2007

A woman with nearly lifelong ties to UW-River Falls who made a life of giving to others, left her alma mater $1 million for scholarships.

Alpha Lucile Spriggs, better known as Lucile, was born on July 30, 1916 in Olmsted County, Minn. When she was still a toddler, her father Roy got a job teaching agricultural engineering at UWRF, then known as River Falls State Teachers College, and the family moved to River Falls.

In 1934, Spriggs joined her father at River Falls State Teachers College as an english and history major. Spriggs played tennis, wrote for the Student Voice, acted in plays, managed the finances of the Young Women's Christian Association and played violin in the Symphony Orchestra while maintaining a GPA that kept her in the Honors Club through college, according to the 1937 Meletean (a yearbook) and 1930s Student Voice articles.

Spriggs graduated in 1938, then began her career of serving others. Spriggs enlisted in the American Red Cross in October 1944, a military card from a file in University archives indicates. Spriggs was responsible for "military welfare work" and hospital duties. Next, Spriggs settled into a job at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis, where she worked in social services, according to a press release prepared by the UWRF Office of Public Affairs.

Nancy Devine, UWRF Foundation president, said that Spriggs regularly donated money to UWRF for scholarships throughout her later life. Sprigg's biggest gift, $1 million, came after her death in 2005.

"She never shared with us her intentions to make this generous gift," Devine said.

Though she never formed a family of her own, Spriggs kept in contact with a close circle of childhood friends who also attended River Falls State Teachers College, Devine said.

"From what I understood, she outlived many of her friends," Devine said. "So we were kind of like an extended family."

This connection Spriggs felt with the University may have influenced her to make such a large donation, the biggest to come from one person in UWRF history, Devine said.

Spriggs' father's role at UWRF may have also factored into the decision, Devine said. An article in the Dec. 19, 1936 edition of the Student Voice illustrates the level of Roy Spriggs' involvement on campus through the course of his 32 years as a professor at River Falls State Teachers College; when a new machine shed needed to be built at the campus farm, Professor Spriggs drew up the plans himself. Spriggs asked that the donated funds be dispensed as the R.E. Spriggs Family Memorial Scholarship in honor of her father and her mother, Maude.

Spriggs specified only that the donation was to be used for scholarships, Devine said. The UWRF Foundation made the decision to make them leadership scholarships, Devine said, because Spriggs "was very involved as a University leader."

"I think it's a good choice," said senior Isaac Adediran about the decision to use Spriggs' donation for leadership scholarships.

Adediran has never received a leadership scholarship for his work as president of the UWRF Pre-Medical Society. As a student leader, it has been tough for him to devote himself to school while trying to pay for tuition, Adediran said.

"If I actually had a scholarship in my freshman year," Adediran said, "it'd be great."