Marla Kim ’60 and Robert Benziger are a dynamic couple who adore nature, love traveling, have a deeper appreciation of our planet, and most importantly, are passionate about educating young people. Being significant proponents of education, the Benzigers recognize the public needs of education and have created scholarships to extend the opportunity to young people to pursue their educational dreams.

“We support women going into the STEM fields, and also support arts for young children, be it singing, acting, or music,” said Marla Kim and Robert Benziger.

One such initiative is the Marla Kim and Robert A. Benziger Scholarship in the College of Education at Illinois State University. After graduating from Illinois State in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education, Marla Kim Benziger went on to teach kindergarteners in Mansfield, Illinois, and Utica, New York. After Robert Benziger finished law school at the University of Illinois, the couple left the state.

After 11 years out of state, they returned to Illinois where Robert Benziger established a scholarship at his alma mater’s law school. This act triggered Marla Kim’s interest in giving back to Illinois State. Meanwhile, she also became very active in an organization called the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which was established in 1881.

This organization provides scholarships and grants to women who return to college after their bachelor’s degree. In 2017 alone, this organization provided approximately $4 million in scholarship and grants to women with no strings attached. Influenced by her husband and the AAUW, Marla Kim was inspired to create the Marla Kim and Robert A. Benziger Scholarship for nontraditional students who choose to earn a graduate degree through one of the department’s programs.

The Benzigers’ dedication to the community, particularly to those pursuing education, is highly commendable. We in the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations thank the Benzigers for empowering nontraditional students. We also want to thank the Benzingers for their generosity, which will benefit EAF students for years to come.