Couple Gives Back to Union College
Jerry '61 and Jane Nowack '62 Thayer support Union College because it has held true to its institutional values, and carried on the Adventist tradition of doing things right for 125 years since its doors opened on September 30, 1891.
"There is something unique about the people at Union College, its students and faculty and staff," stated Jane.
Union's distinctiveness is demonstrated in the stories Jane hears about faculty helping students in and out of the classroom, challenging students to assume leadership roles around campus, and encouraging the students to make the most of the gifts God has given them.
"It's very satisfying to see among the faculty and staff kids we grew up with, or students we taught, now making a real impact at Union College," Jane explained.
"We feel a close attachment to Union… it's our college!" Jerry added.
Jerry and Jane met on the campus of Union College, and it was because of Jerry's job in the print shop that he knew of Jane before she even set foot in Lincoln.
"When I worked in Union's print shop we printed Sunnydale Academy's Triangle newspaper." Jerry explained. "I kept reading about all the things Jane was doing at Sunnydale so I told myself, ‘I have to meet this girl when she comes to Union,' and I made sure I did."
Jane graduated from Union College with a degree in English and Jerry graduated with a degree in secondary education. Jerry taught in Union College's education and psychology department for a few years and has also worked at a state university and three Adventist colleges. The couple now lives in Berrien Springs, Mich. and have both retired after working at Andrews University for over 35 years.
Since 1971, the Thayers have supported Union College.
"Dr. Everett Dick came to visit us and asked if we would help support the construction of the new administration building. That was our first significant gift to Union." Jerry recalled.
Over the years, Jerry and Jane have enjoyed working with Union College's Advancement office to determine not only the best area of campus for their gifts to support, but also the best way for them to give their gifts.
"It's nice to have alternatives." Jerry said. "The Advancement office gives us options A, B and C and then we decide which one works best for us."
One thing Jerry does not like is feeling pressured into doing something.
"Whenever I feel pressured, I resist," Jerry stated matter-of-factly. "If I had ever felt Union was pressuring us I would not have given, but I never felt pressured to give out of obligation or for any other reason."
The Thayer's giving has moved through three phases over the years. Initially, when they were both working full time they gave their gifts to Union College out of their disposable income—their checking account.
"When we decided to give more substantial gifts to Union, we dipped into our investments," Jerry described concerning their second phase of giving. "With Union's help, we gave appreciated assets (mutual funds), which allowed us to avoid having to the pay capital gains tax had we sold the assets prior to making the gift to Union."
Their third phase of giving started in retirement.
"In the year I turned 70½ I had to start taking a required minimum distribution (RMD) from my IRA. This involved selling a designated amount of my IRA portfolio which incurred a tax liability," Jerry lamented. "Union's Advancement office helped make it possible to give directly from my IRA, thus avoiding the capital gains tax and satisfying my RMD."
Congress has now permanently reinstated the IRA qualified charitable distribution, sometimes called the IRA charitable rollover, which allows anyone who is age 70½ or older to give up to $100,000 annually from their IRA directly to a charitable organization. Now Jerry has a couple of options on how they will support Union College.
"From now on, in years when we need our RMD to pay for expenses, we will give our gifts from our mutual funds," Jerry declared. "When we don't need the RMD to cover expenses we will use our IRA as the source of our giving."
The benefit to donors in giving from the IRA is the charitable distribution can satisfy all or part of their RMD, and since it is not counted as income it is not taxed.
"It was nice having the option of giving our gifts this way, particularly if the income from the IRA would have put us in a higher tax bracket," Jerry pointed out.
Several years ago the Thayers set up an endowed scholarship to help students who couldn't afford tuition.
"Our only stipulation is the student has to be working, that way they are contributing to their education as well." Jane said.
The Thayers worked with the Advancement office to establish the scholarship and they appreciate receiving photos and information about the students they are helping.
Jerry and Jane believe in supporting special projects, such as their scholarship and many of Union's capital campaigns, because that demonstrates what they feel passionate about, and they also believe strongly in supporting the institution as a whole.
"We give to the Union College Fund because we don't mind giving money to help repave a parking lot, or to replace some windows because we know those things have to be done." Jane explained, "We believe Union College knows best where the money is most needed and trust the college will make the right decisions."
Jerry went on to say, "A mixture of giving to special projects and the annual fund is the way to do it."
If you would like to work with the Advancement office to determine how your gifts can be used, and to discover the best way you can give your gift, please contact Scot Coppock, Director of Leadership Giving, at 402-486-2600, Ext. 2200 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Scot has several options to offer and would love to find one that works for you.
Information contained herein was accurate at the time of posting. The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results. California residents: Annuities are subject to regulation by the State of California. Payments under such agreements, however, are not protected or otherwise guaranteed by any government agency or the California Life and Health Insurance Guarantee Association. Oklahoma residents: A charitable gift annuity is not regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and is not protected by a guaranty association affiliated with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. South Dakota residents: Charitable gift annuities are not regulated by and are not under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Division of Insurance.