Robert R. Southard Memorial Scholarship

Departments: Services for Students with Disabilities Categories: Disability | Diversity | Extracurricular Activities
Amount Two awards of $500.
Availability Annually
Eligibility Criteria

One award provides a scholarship to the current president of the Student Senate.

The second award is for a student with a physical disability who is of junior or senior status, has a minimum resident GPA of 2.5, and can demonstrate university or community service.

Application Procedure Automatically awarded to the president of the Student Senate. All other applicants may obtain materials through the Services for Students with Disabilities office.
Application Deadline May 1
Notification Recipient will be notified of the award by the Services for Students with Disabilities office.
Special Notes

Robert R. Southard was born May 13, 1934, in Marshfield and raised in Rice Lake, WI, the second of five sons of Dr. Willard B. and Mrs. Eva B. Southard. Bob graduated from Rice Lake High School in the spring of 1952. That fall he enrolled at Wisconsin State University-Eau Claire. In the early summer of 1954, Bob was with a group of students swimming in the Eau Claire area. A running surface dive into the water resulted in Bob suffering a broken neck between the fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae. The next two years were spent hospitalized, first at Chippewa Falls, then at Wisconsin General Hospital in Madison, and finally at the Wisconsin Neurological Hospital in Madison.

The result of this unfortunate accident left Bob a quadriplegic with only bicep movement in the arms but complete paralysis from the chest down. His family questioned what a young man in his prime of life can possibly look forward to without functional use of any of his limbs. However, Bob was soon to show not only his family, but his community as well.

In the summer of 1956 with the help of his twin brother, Jim, he went to summer session at the University of Wisconsin. In the fall he re-enrolled at Wisconsin State University-Eau Claire, the first wheelchair-confined student to ever attend the university. That fall he was elected to the Student Government and by the spring of 1957 was elected President.The student presidency was merely the beginning of Bob's many successes.

Due to a remarkable memory and concentration, Bob was able to make the Dean's Honor Roll, in spite of his handicap and inability to take notes in class. In the spring of 1958 he was named to 'Who's Who.'

Upon graduation in 1958, Bob began his own insurance agency. It was also at this time he became extremely active in helping the handicapped. He was one of the charter board members which began and formed the Career Development Center in Eau Claire, an evaluation, training, and employment shop for handicapped people. He was elected as the second President of the Workshop Board of Directors and eventually also acted as its Executive Director. He spoke throughout the state on helping and hiring the handicapped. In 1960 he was nominated and voted Wisconsin's Handicapped Man of the Year. In 1964 he was voted by the Eau Claire Junior Chamber of Commerce as Eau Claire's Young Man of the Year.

Bob founded Par-Te-Rec which is the Recreational Organization for the Disabled of Eau Claire. The organization, after any years of volunteers providing the service, is now run by the City of Eau Claire Parks and Recreation Department. In his ten years in a wheelchair, Bob's accomplishments were more productive than a lifetime of most. He served as a tremendous inspiration to all the handicapped and expressed that a handicap is a state of mind.

On January 3, 1965, at the age of 31, Bob passed away. This memorial fund was established to help the student body president personally, since so much of their time is devoted to helping the students they represent.

Thank You Recipients should send a thank you note to Mr. Don Southard, in care of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.