Building a foundation for new research

Eloise and Elliot Kaplan’s relationship with CEHD was transformed in part because of a terrible accident

Eloise and Elliot Kaplans’ relationship with CEHD began in part because of a terrible accident. Eight years ago, Eloise (BA ’92, MSW ’11) was hit by a car, suffering a head injury that hospitalized her for almost six months. Before the accident, she’d been pursuing a master of social work degree while working in private practice and as an American Cancer Society volunteer focused on smoking cessation. Because of Eloise’s strong academic record and years of practical experience, Dean Jean Quam, joined by then-president Robert Bruininks and provost Tom Sullivan, bestowed her diploma in a special ceremony at the Kaplans’ home. 

Today, Eloise is substantially recovered, having beaten the odds and her doctors’ predictions. Her experience and gratitude to Dean Quam led her and Elliot to make a gift to the School of Social Work in 2013. The Eloise and Elliot Kaplan Fellowship for TBI Field Placements has already supported 11 graduate students who have an interest in working with individuals with traumatic brain injuries. 

As they got to know more about research across CEHD, the Kaplans felt a connection to the Institute of Child Development (ICD). They have a granddaughter with cerebral palsy and a passion for children’s issues such as autism and other neurological disorders. Eloise and Elliot valued ICD’s work to ensure more children would be on a path to success.  

Phot of Elliot and Eloise Kaplan with Dean Quam
Elliot and Eloise Kaplan with Dean Quam

When Dean Quam told them about ICD’s building project, they were excited. The Kaplans made a leadership commitment, which will modernize facilities for the top-ranked program and increase CEHD’s ability to uncover new horizons in human development. 

“It was time for us to give back,” says Elliot, who has bachelor’s and law degrees from the U of M. “We feel very strongly about what CEHD means to the University of Minnesota, the state, and the world. The college has affected our lives personally, and we are grateful for the impact of research in ICD and the School of Social Work.” 

The Kaplans have committed over $1 million to CEHD, including gifts to support social work students and the ICD project. In addition, Eloise and Elliot are giving their time as honorary co-chairs of CEHD’s Improving Lives campaign cabinet. And they have enjoyed a special friendship with Dean Quam, especially a shared love of sports. “We’ve learned not to call Jean when a game is on!” say the Kaplans.

Story by Ann Dingman | Photo by Erin Benner | Spring/summer 2019