Over the summer, Rolf and Anne Kuhns made a major estate gift to the Department of Physical Therapy, expanding on the endowed chair and the scholarship fund they established in 2006.
“We recognized, both of us, that our experience at the University of Florida was a great gift,” said Rolf, a 1972 graduate of the UF physical therapy program. “We’re basically returning our wealth to the university, who gave it to us.”
Rolf and Anne came from humble beginnings. The University of Florida was the only university they could afford, through the help of tuition scholarships and stipends. Fortunately, both were able to graduate debt-free.
When the Kuhns received their first request to give back to the university, they happily gave what they could comfortably afford — $5.
However, in the 40 years since their UF graduations, the Kuhns have steadily built up their wealth.
Anne graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1969 and was the first UF student to graduate with a master’s degree focused on computer science in education. When Anne joined the Walt Disney Company in 1976 as a programmer, she steadily excelled in a field dominated by men in an era where society had other expectations for women. She worked her way through the organization for 37 years and was eventually Vice-President, Chief Information Security Officer.
For someone who always wanted to work in a hospital setting while in school, upon graduation Rolf partnered with Peter Lord in Orlando and eventually became owner of the physical therapy private practice. Over the years, Rolf steadily owned and operated private practices in Orlando and went on to hold administrative positions for national rehabilitation companies.
“We’ve always been savers,” Rolf said. “As a result, as we built our wealth, the ability to give back to the university increased, and we’ve gradually done that.”
The Kuhns’ recent estate gift will expand on the endowed chair, which was the first endowed chair in the College of Public Health and Health Professions.
“Their planned gift came during times of uncertainty,” said Krista Vandenborne, PhD, PT, Chair of the UF Department of Physical Therapy and UF Distinguished Professor. “We are certain that this contribution will create tangible changes, help us continue to build the department’s impact, and set the stage for the future of the physical therapy program.”
Additionally, the Kuhns established the Rolf and Anne Kuhns Endowment for Physical Therapy fund back in 2006 and have been steadily supporting and promoting clinical excellence in UF DPT students ever since.
“We thought times are different and financial situations are different, but the thought is still the same — that somebody out there cares to help ensure that we’re investing in our future,” Anne said. “We want to recognize and reward good clinical and academic behavior, and at the same time let students know that somebody out there cares.”
This year, Brittany Wienkers, UF DPT class of 2021, received the Rolf and Anne Kuhns Scholarship award. “I hope to someday give back to the University of Florida in the way the Kuhns are helping students like me,” Wienkers said. “Having experienced the amazing impact this scholarship has had on my own education and being recognized for my hard work, I hope to someday give back to the Department, similarly to how the Kuhns have supported me.”