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Jan. 5, 2021

Quality education inspires Brink to give back to University


A Northwest Missouri State University alumnus’ appreciation for his undergraduate experience recently inspired him to remember the University when planning a six-figure unrestricted gift.

Ardel Brink, who graduated from Northwest in 1961 with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and biology, plans to provide $100,000 to the University by gifting a percentage of the annual required minimum distribution (RMD) from his individual retirement account (IRA). As an unrestricted gift, Brink’s donation allows the University to meet unforeseen needs as they arise and to capitalize on opportunities as they emerge. 

A native of Castana, located in western Iowa about 65 miles north of Council Bluffs, Brink is retired from careers as a public school teacher and tax accountant. While he resides today in Colorado for part of the year and in Arizona for the remainder, he shares an appreciation for Northwest and the impact it had on his life.

He also cites Northwest advancements and recent successes, such as the University’s pioneering electronic campus – which, in 1987, made it the first public institution in the nation with networked computers in each residence hall room and office – as well as its national championship-winning athletics programs as reasons his pride for Northwest endures.

“I have always been proud of having Northwest Missouri State University as my alma mater,” Brink said. “In the years since I left, Northwest has done much to improve its image.”

Brink arrived at Northwest in the fall of 1957 and was a student on campus when most classes were still in the Administration Building; Colden Hall opened in 1959. Northwest’s enrollment was less than 2,000 students. “I’m sure if I were on campus now, I’d be totally lost,” Brink said.

He says he opted to attend Northwest because it was one of the few colleges he could afford.

“I would not be where I am today without my experiences at Northwest,” he said. “I felt that what I received is a value much greater than what I paid for. My out-of-pocket expenses in a full year there was a fraction of what most students pay for maybe even a single semester at a lot of schools now.”

He came to the University with hopes of pursuing engineering but soon discovered he wasn’t as strong in science as he needed to be.

“I remember my first year taking a chemistry class with Dr. (J. Gordon) Strong, and he asked how many of the class had not had high school chemistry,” Brink said. “I think I was one of three to raise my hand and that was a tough class for me.”

Instead, Brink decided to pursue degrees in math and biology and try for a career in teaching.

In the meantime, he passed the time away from his studies by working in the school cafeteria, serving students and washing dishes.

He also was active in the Radio Club and was part of a group during his senior year that launched KDLX in a broom closet in Colbert Hall, a former men’s dormitory. Until 2002, the station – now known as KZLX – broadcast over electrical lines and could only be heard on campus. Its original call numbers – DLX – translated as a Roman numeral to 560, which is where listeners could find the station on a radio dial. 

“I had heard that some people were able to park their cars under the streetlights near there and could still pick up the signal,” Brink said.

When he was a senior, Brink also joined the intramural wrestling team and competed, at 123 pounds, in five matches before separating his shoulder in a practice. “So that was the end of my wrestling career, but I was probably one of the few people that never had high school wrestling at all and went out for wrestling as a senior,” he said.

Upon his graduation, Brink interviewed with a recruiter who visited Northwest while traveling a circuit through the Midwest to recruit teachers for Denver Public Schools. Brink accepted the recruiter’s offer and went on to teach math and science for 27 years in Denver.  

In 1988, when an ear surgery and subsequent hearing loss forced him to leave the classroom, Brink found a second career as a tax accountant and worked in that capacity for 25 years.

“I sold the practice about five years ago,” said Brink, who turned 81 in October. “I've been working for nearly 60 years. That’s long enough.”

Brink says he had been thinking about giving back to Northwest when he received a phone call from one of the University’s Cat Callers. The team of students works within the Office of University Advancement to connect with Northwest alumni and friends of the institution to educate them about the University’s needs and encourage giving.

After speaking with Brink, the student who spoke with him relayed his request for a follow-up call University Advancement staff to discuss his giving options.

“We are thankful that Ardel thought of Northwest when considering his IRA and are touched by his intent to gift – a total of $100,000 over a multi-year period through his annual RMD,” Laurie Long, a senior gift planning officer at Northwest, said. “Ardel’s unrestricted cash gift is the ultimate of charitable gifts as it can be used to help address the University’s top priorities. It’s also wonderful to confirm that Northwest’s planned giving outreach is aiding our alumni and friends in navigating their personal charitable needs and objectives.”


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704