Giving back pleases alumni


Jana L. Haas

Giving something back to an institution that has helped many have a better life is just one of many reasons SDSU alumni begin, and continue, to give to the university.

Some alumni give because they believe that the more people who are well educated, the safer and better the world will be.

Some give to continue a family tradition and some to have the satisfaction of supporting a determined student who just needs some financial assistance to get an education that will help the student do well in the future.

Several alumni received scholarships as students and wanted to do something similar for another student.

Jerry Lohr, of San Jose, Calif., who graduated from SDSU in 1958 with a degree in Civil Engineering, tells such a story.

“I was awarded the Soreng Scholarship which paid for my freshman year of college. Dr. Soreng was here that year and that made such an impression on me. I just never forgot it,” Lohr said.

After graduating from SDSU, Lohr attended graduate school at Stanford for three years before serving in the Air Force for three years. Lohr started a building business in 1964, a vineyard business in 1972, and J. Lohr Winery in 1974.

Lohr began donating to the Alumni Center about 30 years ago when he was asked to help.

“No one gives without being asked. It’s very important to have another graduate of SDSU ask,” he said.

Lohr’s main donations went toward Crothers Engineering Hall and Solberg Hall. He also donated funds for scholarships.

“I’m a huge believer in scholarships. SDSU provides such a good education. People should appreciate the education they get here. It’s a tremendous value,” Lohr said.

Les Roberts, of Ashton, SD, graduated from SDSU in 1948 with a degree in Agricultural Engineering. Roberts is a member of the SDSU Foundation Board and funds several SDSU scholarships.

“I’ve seen where it’s done so much good. It keeps kids in school and then they go out and do well,” Roberts said.

Roberts had three sons, one daughter, and two grandchildren graduate from SDSU.

Another alumnus, Elizabeth Williams, continues her family’s practice of giving to SDSU.

“I’d seen my parents donating, and I just expected that I would do the same thing,” Williams said.

Williams graduated in 1962 with a degree in Foreign Languages and a minor in Journalism. She teaches an off-campus Sociology class in Watertown and writes for the Argus Leader.

The South Dakota Art Museum has an administrative room named for her mother.

According to SDSU President Peggy Miller, state funding for SDSU is uncertain. Yet public universities want to keep quality high and costs to students low.

SDSU is no longer a state supported university. It is only a state assisted university which means that SDSU does not get enough dollars from the state and from tuition to give students “all that they need with the quality they need,” said Miller.

“Having alumni and friends who give us financial help make it possible for us to provide quality in faculty, library, technology, buildings, etc. when the state does not provide enough dollars,” said Miller.