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A Vanderbilt romance

Jan. 24, 2017, 8:57 AM

Ann and Dave Kloeppel by: Susan UrmyAnn, MBA’96, and David Kloeppel’s, BS’91, MBA’96, story is in many ways a Vanderbilt romance—as students, they fell in love with each other and the university.

In tribute to the important role of Vanderbilt in their lives and to celebrate Dave’s 25th Reunion as a College of Arts and Science graduate of the Class of 1991, the couple recently made a $250,000 commitment to establish the Ann and David Kloeppel Summer Immersion Fund. This fund supports experiential learning opportunities for Arts and Science undergraduate students, specifically summer study abroad and summer internships.

For both, supporting these outside-the-classroom learning experiences means encouraging students to broaden their worldview.

“I came to Vanderbilt not knowing much about the world. I didn’t take advantage of many opportunities to explore it in a great way when I was a student. The first time I travelled abroad was after business school with Ann on our honeymoon,” says David Kloeppel.

“After graduating from Owen we worked in New York. People from all over the world were sitting in offices on either side of me. It was an incredibly rich, cross-cultural experience. That multi-cultural experience has been a huge part of who Ann and I are as adults and helped us become the people we are today.”

Ann Kloeppel’s work experience also showed her the value of learning beyond the classroom. “You can’t learn everything you need to know from a book,” says Ann Kloeppel. “I was such a good student in school. I knew how to get good grades. But then it came time to get a job after undergrad. Every time I spoke to a potential employer I thought to myself, ‘Why in the world would this person hire me?’”

Alternatively, her time working with undergraduates in a volunteer role exposed her to the array of experiential opportunities available to Vanderbilt students nowadays.

“These students do incredible things over the summer,” Ann says. “Many of them go work in New York, which was uncommon when Dave was in college. They secure meaningful business internships, or they go abroad. I know one person who received a grant to pursue nursing in Ghana over the summer. Their worlds are so much bigger than ours were at their age.”

“The university has gone to great lengths to make a Vanderbilt education possible for students of all incomes, but students are really only experiencing a slice of the education if they can’t afford to participate in experiential opportunities.”

The Kloeppels are pleased that their interests line up with the university’s vision for its future, namely its Immersion Vanderbilt initiative. Pending approval by the faculty, this program will require all undergraduate students to participate in an intensive learning experience that may include experiences outside the classroom and culminates in the creation of a significant product such as a research report, creative work or policy proposal.

“We’ve been lucky that we were able to move back to Nashville, and being local has helped us maintain a relationship with the university. It’s exciting to witness firsthand the evolution of the school ,” says Ann Kloeppel.

David Kloeppel echoes that sentiment: “It’s an incredible institution that continues to only get better. We are excited that we are on the leading edge of this immersion direction. Over the past two or three years we’ve thought a lot about this topic as we’ve watched our kids grow and as we have reflected on our own teen and college years. Creating opportunities for others to have new experiences that they can build into bigger successes has become really important to us. We think immersion is the way to do that.”

Vanderbilt may have brought the Kloeppels together, but now they are the ones playing matchmaker—helpings students’ pursue their passions and interests both inside and outside the classroom.