Fall 2020

Acres for education

Arnold Sluis on the family farm circa 1952
Courtesy: Jan Cameron

While growing up on his family’s Minnesota farm in the 1940s and ’50s, Arnold Sluis dreamed of going to college and seeing the world. But life had other plans. His eldest brother went into the service and another went to college, keeping Sluis on the farm. Then he joined the Army. When his tour of duty in Germany was over, he returned to work the farm.

Finally, at age 41, Sluis began his college education, leading to a B.A. in 1974 from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and a master’s in social work two years later from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He spent much of his career as a social worker in K-12 schools in Iowa, as did his wife, Jan Cameron. The two met during a job interview.

“Arnold loved the U, and both of us could have gone to college forever,” Cameron says. “We took evening classes, whatever looked fun.” They also toured the United States in a motor home, and Sluis traveled internationally with one of his brothers.

After Sluis died in 2014, Cameron gave his 160 acres of farmland to the U of M. “Arnold and I had discussed what I should do with the land if I outlived him,” she says. “Since neither of us could have attended college without financial assistance, it got him thinking about helping students in need.”

After Cameron’s death, the University will use the assets from the land to fund the Arnold Sluis Memorial Scholarship, which will provide support for students from low-income families. “That’s what Arnold wanted,” she says.