Bequest Received to Fund Scholarships

January 12, 2017


Cedar Falls Community Foundation Receives Substantial Bequest for Scholarships

The Cedar Falls Community Foundation has received a bequest of $904,311.00 from the estate of Robert Eller to support study abroad scholarships.

Robert Eller was born in Janesville, Wisconsin and grew up in southern Wisconsin where his father worked for the railroad. After attending Platteville State College (now the University of Wisconsin at Platteville), Bob followed an older brother to the University of Iowa where he attained his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Education. Before coming to the University of Northern Iowa, Bob taught in various Iowa public schools for ten years. Except for two years he spent in Africa working on a government program, Bob spent the remainder of his professional career at UNI where he was an Education Media Specialist, working with as many as twenty student assistants at a time. The close relationships that he developed with his students and the experience that he had in Africa motivated him to establish a scholarship fund to support study abroad. Mr. Eller felt strongly that UNI students should have the opportunity for cross-cultural experiences that would expand their horizons.

He established the Robert Eller Study Abroad Endowment with the Cedar Falls Community Foundation in 1994 to provide funds to support study abroad for undergraduate University of Northern Iowa students. Applications for the scholarship are accepted by the UNI Study Abroad Center and reviewed by a committee composed of University of Northern Iowa Emeritus faculty and Cedar Falls Community Foundation staff.

The Eller Study Abroad Endowment began with a modest initial investment that was allowed to grow for many years. The first student traveled to Australia in 2000 and for the next fourteen years, Robert Eller personally funded the study abroad scholarships as his investment fund grew. In 2014 Mr. Eller decided the fund had grown adequately to begin granting scholarships from it, and in 2015, two $1,500 scholarships were awarded.

Thirty-five students have had the opportunity to study abroad since 2000. Their destinations have included Australia, Spain, Ireland, Wales, Chile, France, Japan, Scotland, Greece, Budapest, England, and New Zealand.
With the recent bequest from Mr. Eller’s estate, the Eller Study Abroad Fund has grown from a modest initial deposit to over one million dollars, enabling substantially larger scholarships to be awarded in coming years. With the cost of a semester abroad typically ranging from $15,000 to $25,000, this support will be of critical assistance to students seeking study abroad opportunities and support.

Robert Eller died February 20, 2016, leaving a legacy that will endure for generations and assist hundreds of students in achieving their study abroad dreams. The Cedar Falls Community Foundation accepts and manages estate gifts and donations to fulfill donor wishes, assisting donors to achieve their charitable legacy. The Cedar Falls Community Foundation’s mission to use the resources entrusted to its stewardship to support projects that enhance the community’s quality of life through cultural, scholarly, recreational, literary and artistic endeavors. For more information about the Cedar Falls Community Foundation, please visit or contact 319.243.9170 or email: