AMES, Iowa — An Iowa State University alumni couple has established the Alan E. Krysan and Terri M. Krysan Design Closet Endowment to support ISU College of Design students through funding for supplies and materials required for their design classes.

The Design Closet provides new and gently used or recycled supplies and materials primarily to first-year design students with financial need, but the resource is open to all the college’s students.

Al Krysan, a 1987 agricultural business graduate, and Terri Krysan, a 1987 home economics education graduate, began giving to the Design Closet through FundISU, the Iowa State University Foundation’s online crowdfunding platform, which raises funds for a variety of projects at Iowa State.

The couple were inspired to contribute in part because Terri took interior design courses in the College of Design for her major and recalled the financial burden attached to purchasing supplies for her design classes. So, when she and Al came across a Facebook post sharing the Design Closet’s second FundISU campaign in 2020, they felt called to act.

“I think the timing was good, and it resonated because while the College of Design was not my college, I had to take classes there to complete my curriculum,” Terri said. “It all fell into place.”

The Krysans, who have supported various scholarships at Iowa State, sought other ways to help students be successful. With the Design Closet, they felt they could make an immediate impact.

“It’s student-centered,” Terri said. “This is something that happens today, in the throes of trying to get their degree within the confines of their financial [circumstances]. This helps them now.”

Establishing the Krysan Design Closet Endowment means their impact on College of Design students will continue for generations to come.

The value of giving back

In general, the Krysans believe in giving back because others before them did, providing both Al and Terri with the opportunity to attend college as they received scholarship support from their local FFA and 4-H chapters. They have established an endowed scholarship in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in honor of Terri’s grandparents, Ted and Hazle DeBerg, who also helped her pay for tuition.

“Beyond the scholarships and financial aid, we both worked in local Ames businesses, and we recognized the support from businesses and individuals who sponsored various student activities, the tremendous support for Iowa State Athletics and alumni events, and professionals giving the gift of their time to speak to our classes or student organizations,” Al said.

“All these types of non-scholarship engagements certainly added value to both of our Iowa State adventures and helped shape who we are today.”

Al Krysan is currently an area executive director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and previously was president and managing partner of Finney Company, a book publishing and distribution organization. He is a past member and past chair of the Iowa State University Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Terri Krysan works as a strategic accounts manager with WestRock Company, a leading global paperboard and packaging company. She’s an accomplished competitive quilter as well.

“It’s that pay-it-forward mentality,” Al said. “If we can impact a broad number of students in the College of Design through this cause, it shows them by example that when they get out there and they have a little extra, they might decide to give back and pay it forward in another way.”

The impact of the Design Closet

Jordan Brooks, the director of equity, inclusion and multicultural student success in the College of Design, said the Design Closet serves from 60 to 80 students annually in addition to those who attend pop-up events like supply giveaways at the beginning of each semester.

“The Krysans’ gift is helping us move toward a more sustainable way of providing supplies to low-income students,” Brooks said. “Our goal is to provide supplies to every first-year student irrespective of financial need. We are not there yet; however, this endowment is a step toward that reality and assures we will always have funds for a good number of students with need.”

New for this year, the coordinators of the required first-year design studio and drawing course created a primary kit of supplies that serves both classes and an additional kit of specialty items for the design studio, which will be available to students for less than the cost of purchasing supplies separately. Brooks has partnered with the coordinators and the ISU Book Store to provide access to these kits to as many students with financial need as possible.

“With the Krysans’ support, we’ll be able to provide free kits to about half the population we typically serve in a year. Having this consistent source of funds means we can focus our fundraising efforts on other areas of need.”

In addition to providing supplies for both first-year and returning students, the Design Closet is committed to recycling and reuse — something the Krysans are particularly passionate about. Students are invited to donate supplies and materials they no longer need for distribution to peers, and encouraged to share items left over from projects rather than discard them.

“Our work has shown us that the college’s overall relationship to waste and materials is at the core of the need to provide materials to students,” Brooks said. “Being conscious of our environment and impact on the world, if we can shift our relationship to material and waste to one with more reciprocity and pooling of resources, we can also reduce the need, addressing the issue from two ends.”

The Krysans made their charitable gift through the Iowa State University Foundation, which is a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit Iowa State University.


Jordan Brooks, Director of Equity, Inclusion and Multicultural Student Success, jwbrooks@iastate.edu
Kim McDonough, Senior Director of Development, kmcdonough@foundation.iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Communications Director, hsauer@iastate.edu