May 15, 2020

Having walked in their shoes

A couple’s history compels them to support students through desperate times. 


He kept his eyes on his shoes and reluctantly entered the Student Affairs Office. The college sophomore didn’t come from much, but he certainly didn’t expect to be in this position. He couldn’t scrape up enough money for groceries or rent, let alone another quarter of pharmacy school.

“I had just sold my car. At that point in time, there were no assets left,” he said.

A woman behind the desk with kind eyes and a motherly demeanor listened to his story, nodded sympathetically, and promised to do some digging. Later that day, the phone rang with good news: the woman with kind eyes found funding that would cover another quarter.
 
As Rob Treuer recalled that day at North Dakota State University in 1986, he can still feel the sense of relief. “I can’t remember her name, but I can see her face. Her actions that day profoundly changed my life,” said Rob.
 
With a semester at the University of North Dakota and a degree from North Dakota State University under his belt, Rob pursued a career in hospital and pharmacy corporate management. His wife and high school sweetheart, Dr. Jody Treuer, ’96, earned her white coat from the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences and is now chair of the diagnostic imaging department at Altru Health System in Grand Forks. The couple takes pride in wearing Kelly green and giving regularly to the University.
 
“We live here, we love UND and we just really appreciate the fact that the money that goes into the Foundation is focused back on educating students.”
 
In college, Rob and Jody did everything together, so if one was under financial stress, the other felt it. If one got a leg up, so did the other. Those “legs up” at pivotal times in the couple’s history are what compelled the Treuers to help financially jump-start the UND Angel Fund earlier this year. The unrestricted fund, supported by the Division of Student Affairs & Diversity, provides financial assistance to students in crisis. So far, over 90 students have received gifts. The Division continues to receive applications daily. 
 
“It’s what we had to benefit from when we were in college, and it was a huge game changer for us,” Rob said of the UND Angel Fund. Although he doesn’t remember if his aid in 1986 came from a scholarship or a government grant, he says it’s the principle behind it that matters: “Either way, it was someone else’s money. That dollar was somebody’ else’s dollar – at least that’s the way I view it.”
 
Last month, the Treuers gave a second gift to the UND Angel Fund after hearing about the applications from students whose desperate tone sounded all too familiar: International students who can’t travel home, medical students postponing their boards because of the cost, student workers who have lost their only source of income, and some even homeless with no means for rent.
 
 
While the duo has always made philanthropic decisions together, they prefer to stay away from the spotlight. “We don’t really like the attention,” said Rob. “But we like to hear the impact.”
 
The Treuers keep their own children (two of whom graduated from UND and one currently enrolled) in mind when hearing stories of those who have applied for support through the UND Angel Fund. “There are a lot of students who have lost their ability – through no choice of their own – to pay their own bills,” said Rob. “So why wouldn’t you give to really impact students in a tragic time? And what an impact you can have!”
 
– by Jenn Lukens
 
Be an Angel like Rob and Jody and donate for students in need today at UNDalumni.org/angel