Gophers Helping Gophers: One Generation to the Next

Group of 2 men and 1 woman. The woman is in the center and holds a framed certificate.
Regina Clark (center) with then UMN Foundation president Jerry Fischer (left) and then UMN president Nils Hasselmo (right) in 1994

Edward G. Clark Jr. was born in 1900 and studied economics at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1924. After he passed away in 1990, his widow Regina Clark spoke with the University of Minnesota about an estate gift to honor her late husband and support students studying economics. In the 1994 photo above, Regina is thanked by Jerry Fischer (left), then president of the University of Minnesota Foundation, and Nils Hasselmo (right), then president of the University.

That gift came to fruition in 2019 when Regina herself passed away. It's probably fair to say that neither Edward nor Regina could have envisioned the impact their gift would have now. In the scholarship's inaugural year, five students received generous support, and, in the coming year, ten students will receive $10,000 each. The flexibility of Regina's gift gave the Economics department the ability to enhance the diversity of the undergraduate program. The Edward G. Clark scholarship is helping us make inroads with underrepresented groups and reshaping the economics field.

Molly Simpkins, a recent graduate of the BA-Q program and a part of the first Women in Economics cohort last year, was one of the inaugural recipients of the Edward G. Clark Scholarship for the 2021-2022 school year. Below, she shares her path to the U of M and discusses what the Edward Clark Scholarship means to her.

What did you do before you came to the U of M?

"After high school, I did non-profit mission work overseas in communities struggling with poverty, including Australia, Mozambique, Uganda, India, Nepal, and Indonesia. My work focused on creating opportunity and prosperity in these communities and my firsthand experience with stark poverty pushed me to ask myself more fundamental questions about how economies work and what causes communities to thrive. This drive eventually brought me to the U of M economics department."

How was your U of M student experience, and how did the Edward G. Clark scholarship change your academic career?

I chose the U of M because of the reputation of the economics department and because it was more affordable than some of my other options. I met outstanding classmates here, and my advisors and mentors gave me invaluable advice and practical help with scholarship and fellowship opportunities, jobs, and summer programs. I sent out many applications. I got rejected a lot. Still, even though it was discouraging at times, I kept improving my applications and looking for opportunities by contacting Annie and Tiffany and reading the department’s weekly emails. Eventually, my efforts paid off, and I received the Edward G. Clark scholarship. The scholarship helped me put my studies first and be a professional student. 

"Also, the scholarship opened up my prospects for the future. I did not have to prioritize a salary and a job first and foremost. I was able to consider a future in which my passion for using economics to improve the lives of people around the world takes center stage. The Edward Clark scholarship gave me the freedom to dream bigger and is part of why I applied for and received a fellowship at John Hopkins University, where this fall I will pursue a Master of Arts in International Relations focused on understanding public service through research."

Edward G. Clark's story, Regina Clark's story, and Molly's story demonstrate how gophers help gophers across generations. A display of how determination and generosity make the U of M a launching point for the next generation of influential scholars.

If you are interested in learning more about planned giving and the tax advantages of making a charitable contribution, please get in touch with Colleen Donahue at

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