A recent gift from the Pritzker Military Foundation aims to support the annual event in perpetuity
BY BETH LUBECKI
NORWICH RECORD | Fall 2021
The Norwich University Military Writers’ Symposium is the only program of its kind at an American university and a much-anticipated annual event on campus. The colloquium brings together authors and experts in the fields of military history, intelligence, and current affairs to share their perspectives and insight about crucial global concerns while engaging with Norwich students and the public.
Col. (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Ret.) wants to ensure that the Military Writers’ Symposium continues for years to come. That’s why the former Board of Trustees member made a recent pledge through the Pritzker Military Foundation, which she founded and leads, to support the symposium.
The $650,000 commitment includes a $150,000 gift to cover immediate operating expenses for the symposium, plus a $500,000 contribution to the symposium’s endowed fund. The Pritzker Military Foundation also established a $500,000 matching gift challenge to grow the endowment to support the event in perpetuity.
“One of the great assets of the symposium is that emerging and established writers in the military field come to Norwich and interact directly with students,” Colonel Pritzker says. “What could be more valuable to an undergraduate than to have this kind of contact with a professional writer or scholar?”
By including a challenge grant in her gift, she hopes to get others in the Norwich community involved in supporting the seminal event. “The $500,000 challenge grant will allow everyone to participate in this meaningful effort through their own contributions,” she says. “Together, we can all ensure that this symposium continues to promote and engage military writers, and for students to benefit from this most valuable experience.”
Norwich has through 2025 to meet the $500,000 matching gift challenge. Should the university achieve this goal, the Pritzker Military Foundation’s gift to the symposium will total $1.15 million.
“Col. Pritzker’s gift is really a testament to her confidence in Norwich and her passion for our mission, and how she really wants us to have skin in the game and be self-empowered,” says Lindsay Budnik, an assistant vice president of development for Norwich. “She wants this event to go on forever.”
The symposium’s endowment has been renamed the Carlo D’Este ’58 Military Writers’ Endowment to honor the legacy of the late Carlo D’Este ’58, who co-founded the symposium in 1996. Fol-lowing a distinguished Army career, the retired colonel became a renowned military historian and author. He received the 2011 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.
“He was a giant in military history writing, and he wrote the definitive works, at least from my perspective and others’, on Churchill and Patton,” says Prof. Travis Morris, PhD, director of the NU Peace and War Center and executive director of the Military Writers’ Symposium.
Over the years, the symposium has focused on topics ranging from weaponizing water to PTSD to the future of war¬fare and cybersecurity. A highlight of the event includes the presentation of the William E. Colby Award, given annually to the author of a first solo work of fiction or nonfiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs.
This year, the 2021 Norwich University Military Writers’ Symposium will examine the Arctic and the power struggle occurring there. For Morris, the ability for students to learn about these kinds of relevant issues from subject-matter experts helps students prepare for their careers after Norwich.
“For 200 years, we’ve been putting leaders in every segment of the military and government and corporations,” Morris says. “We know that students who are here now will be at the tip of the spear of some of the world’s greatest challenges. The symposium is a mechanism that ensures that future leaders are properly prepared to be successful in facing challenges, and Col. Pritzker’s gift really protects this unique event. No matter what happens at Norwich financially, there will always be an opportunity to have a Military Writers’ Symposium.”
Col. Pritzker has a long history of bold philanthropic support of Norwich University. In April 2013, she committed $25 million to Norwich’s Forging the Future fundraising campaign celebrating the university’s 2019 Bicentennial. It was the university’s largest-ever financial gift. Pritzker, who retired from the U.S. Army in March 2001 after almost three decades of service, is a trustee emerita at Norwich and has been honored with her own stair on the university’s Bicentennial Stairs. In addition to her role at the Pritzker Military Foundation, she serves as president and CEO of TAWANI Enterprises, Inc. and president of the TAWANI Foundation. “I’ve long been a champion of Norwich and all that it seeks to accomplish,” she says. “Through my foundations and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, I have sought to help the public understand the importance of the relationship between the military and the society it serves. Norwich University is the perfect partner in this endeavor as the country’s oldest private military college. We share a strong interest in expanding awareness of military affairs and the role of the military in our country and around the world.”
“Col. Pritzker has given so much and is so renowned,” Budnik says. “And this most recent gift is just the latest of what she has done for Norwich. It … speaks to her ethos of giving, which is remark¬able, because it will outlive all of us.”
“Operating a university entails a range of challenges, from creating consistently fresh learning styles to balancing budgets and managing faculty time and resources,” Pritzker says. “The work of a military-focused institution, in particular, is incredibly important. By supporting Norwich, I’m able to help educate a diverse student body of America’s future leaders, advance understanding of military history, and have an impact on who we are as a country.”
To learn more about supporting the Carlo D’Este ’58 Military Writers’ Endowment, visit alumni.norwich.edu/deste.