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Advancement: Your Connection to Union

"An Intellectual With a Heart"

Dr. Merlene Ogden Inspires Young Scholars Toward Excellence

Dr. Merlene Ogden

Dr. Merlene Ogden's gifts allow her to continue helping student scholars even after retiring from active participation in an honors program.

Dr. Merlene Ogden '50 found a way to use her life savings to support her life's work. Rather than taking the required minimum distributions from her individual retirement account, she has distributed them directly to Union College in support of the Union Scholars program.

For more than 50 years, Merlene worked with honors students at Andrews University. She created a program that encouraged top students on campus to appreciate art and literature, to explore and discuss new ideas, and to have an intellectual curiosity. After a lifetime of working in this field, she decided that her retirement nest egg should be used to carry on this same work at Union College.

Dr. Malcolm Russell, vice president for academic administration at Union College and member of the Union Scholars guidance committee, worked closely with Merlene and her honors program during his 26 years as a faculty member at Andrews University. Malcolm describes Merlene as an intellectual with a heart, someone who has a passion for students. "She combines her love of learning with her love of people," Malcolm says.

Merlene explains that she is inspired to work with the honors program because "I want to be able to help the good students and the highly motivated students, to get them committed to excellence in new ways and to get them prepared for life."

When Malcolm came to Union College, he helped instill in the honors program the same values that Merlene championed at Andrews University. A major component of the Union Scholars program is to write a senior thesis, which requires students to learn and employ traditional techniques of data gathering and analysis.

"Merlene was always a strong advocate of student research, long before it was popular," Malcolm says. The concept is to give the honors students experience in research and writing that will prepare them for graduate school, in whatever field they choose to study.

The fund Merlene created in support of Union Scholars grants financial awards to help students cover a portion of their research expenses. One student traveled to Africa to conduct studies in a refugee camp. Another student studied philanthropy and how different approaches to writing a case for support will yield different results in people's giving.

When asked why she decided to use her retirement savings in this way, Merlene explains the gifts allow her to continue helping student scholars even after retiring from active participation in an honors program. She says that Union College has always held a special place in her heart, as both her parents taught at Union; she grew up in Lincoln, Neb.; and she graduated from Union with highest distinction.

A Win-Win-Win Gift
Merlene is dedicated to supporting Union Scholars and, financially speaking, the best way to structure her gifts has been to have them come from her IRA. "You have to take it out of your IRA anyway," Merlene says of the required minimum distribution, "but then you have to pay income tax on it." Even if she made a gift to Union College for the exact amount of her required minimum distribution, the charitable gift's tax deduction would not offset all the taxes she would have to pay on the additional income.

Congress allowed the IRA charitable distribution to expire at the end of 2013, so sadly this philanthropic option is not currently available. However, a bill has been presented to Congress that would reinstate this type of gift and it is likely to be passed in 2014.

For Merlene, making gifts from her IRA is a win-win-win situation. The students in Union College's honors program win by receiving grants to carry out their research, and Merlene wins twice: first by receiving additional tax benefits, but more importantly, she is able to use her savings to continue her lifelong dedication to inspiring young scholars to strive toward excellence.

"Union allows me to designate the use of the funds, which is really appealing to me," Merlene says. She is determined to give purpose to the money she is being forced to take from her IRA. Merlene chose to have her savings do what she had always done in the past, to enrich the lives of students and to pass on her love for learning.

So that begs the question, what is the purpose of your savings?

Will You Collaborate With Union College?
If you would like to discuss ways you can give purpose to your savings through a planned gift, please contact Ken Farrow at 402-486-2600, Ext. 2200 or ken.farrow@ucollege.edu. Ken Farrow is full of ideas and is eager to help you carry on your life's work as well.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Union College a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Union College, a certified 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation registered in the State of Nebraska, [written amount or percentage of the etate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Union College or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Union College as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Union College as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Union College where you agree to make a gift to Union College and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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