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Mary Jane McDonald Education Scholarship

Scholarships applications are closed at this time.  

Educator, diversity advocate and leader of three state and regional educational associations, Mary Jane McDonald was committed to a professional life that spanned 48 years.

When she graduated from Fond du Lac High School in the 1930s, few professions welcomed women. Traditionally the bright and career-oriented entered the teaching profession and became the foundation and substance of American public education. That is the path Mary Jane McDonald chose.

At 18 she taught all eight grades at Franklin School in rural Fond du Lac. For the next 11 years she taught at Franklin, attended summer classes at Oshkosh State Teachers College, worked on the family farm, and held afternoon and weekend jobs to pay college fees. She received a bachelor’s degree in intermediate education in 1945 at what is now UW Oshkosh. She later earned a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison.

She was principal of McKinley, Jefferson and Roberts schools in Fond du Lac. At Roberts, she instituted a curriculum that embraced the arts along with basics, yet she considered parental support the key to elementary school excellence.

The first woman elected president of the Northeastern Wisconsin Educational Association, she also was president of the Wisconsin Educational Research Association and the Wisconsin State Principals Association.

She was an outspoken advocate of school desegregation and diversity. Her 1955 inaugural talk to the principals’ group meshed with the U.S. Supreme Court desegregation ruling that year. At a politically charged time, she urged teachers and parents to "lead children to be appreciative" of other cultures.

"As leaders of these young people, we dare not fail," she said. "They are either an asset or a liability depending upon whether they have been trained to be tolerant and unselfish or have been steeped in hate, suspicion and greed.

"America is rich in the inheritance of all ages, all races, all cultures," she told the state group.  "Our strength is in our diversity…Our tomorrow will be determined by the way we react toward the present situation."

The donor desires to establish and the Foundation is willing to hold and administer a charitable fund to be known as the Mary Jane McDonald Donor Advised Fund.


  • Applicant must be a full-time undergraduate student enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, accepted as a candidate into the Professional Education Program in the College of Education and Human Services at the time of application.

  • Applicant must have financial need, as demonstrated by a personal written statement prepared by the applicant, although financial need is not the sole criterion for acceptance.

  • Applicant must also submit a written statement explaining why he or she has chosen to become an educator.



  • Applications for this scholarship can be obtained from the Curriculum and Instruction Department, College of Education and Human Services

  • Selection will be completed by the College of Education and Human Services in consultation with the University Oshkosh Foundation.  Selection shall be completed early enough in spring to include the scholarship in the University’s Honors and Awards Ceremony.


The Award:

  • The award will be applied to the recipient’s fall tuition expenses.

  • The value of the scholarship award will be determined annually by the selection committee with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation and will be based upon income available for this purpose.

  • Initially, one scholarship recipient will be selected each year.



  • Recipients will be given a packet of background and biographical material about Mary Jane McDonald.

  • Recipients will send a brief note upon graduation as to their future plans to Donald J. McDonald, 1283 Bayshore Drive, Oshkosh, WI  54901.

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