When David Laatsch '95 considers his stewardship of Carroll, he knows the care he provides for his alma mater is deeply rooted in a family legacy spanning 117 of the university’s 175 years.
And with that type of family history, service to Carroll was always a given.
“I think I’ve come to appreciate the unique heritage. I always knew everybody in my family went there. When we left, we stayed connected. We contribute our time. This has been a continuous 117-year relationship at one point or another to one degree or another,” he said.
Now a fourth-generation member of the university's Board of Trustees, Laatsch will discuss stewardship—one of the core components of Carroll’s Ethos statement—as keynote speaker during the February 3rd Founders' Day. An annual event held each year to celebrate the university’s founding in 1846, this year is particularly noteworthy with Carroll marking its 175th year on January 31, 2021.
Alumni and friends are welcome and encouraged to register to attend the event virtually. You will receive the event link upon registration.
Currently vice president of operations excellence at Advocate Aurora Health, Laatsch has a connection to Carroll’s history which stretches back to the early 1900s. That’s when his great-grandfather, William Ganfield, taught at Carroll and then returned to serve as president from 1921 through 1939. Four of Laatsch’s grandparents, great-aunts and a great-uncle all are alumni as are his father, William Laatsch '60, sister, Ann '88, and other family members.
“I grew up in house where your grandparents were friends from college. During holidays, they all showed up in the same car. I never thought about how that’s so unique. And then Carroll was always the common connection. (They talked about) ‘What’s the latest with the college? What do you hear about Carroll?’ Things like that,” he said.
Laatsch began his tenure on the Board of Trustees in 2016. Both his grandfather - Richard Hunter on his mother's side - and his father, known by most as Bill, also served on Carroll’s board. His sister, Ann, currently serves on Carroll’s Alumni Council.
“When I think about stewardship, I think it’s about service,” he said. “Really what you are being a steward of are not the buildings, not the just the endowment – we’re stewards of the students. The type of student Carroll is producing is then creating stewards of the community we live in. You’ve got to look at things a little more broadly.”
For his own children, Ella and Andrew, he and his wife, Tara (Driscoll) Laatsch '96, also a Carroll graduate, try to lead by example through not only involvement at Carroll but also at church and in their community in Wauwatosa, Wis.
That is just as David said his parents, Bill and Fran (Hunter) Laatsch, did for him and his sister. He attributes his foundation as a good steward to his parents, who were both educators and tied deeply to their church and community, raising their children with understanding the importance of service to others, Laatsch said.
Among Laatsch's family members, they have established three endowed scholarship funds and three endowed funds to support program areas across campus.
“I think it’s always about the student and we think about how does it impact the student experience? How does it compare to what other options they might have? Recognizing their experience is important and when they leave they are ambassadors of us,” he said.