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Three universities share large gift to engineering programs

STILLWATER, OKLA. — Three engineering programs at universities in Oklahoma and Kansas are the beneficiaries of a stock gift currently valued at more than $200 million. Officials of Oklahoma City-based Dolese Bros. Co. announced last week that the company has donated much of the private company’s stock to the schools through each institution’s foundation. The Oklahoma State University Foundation, University of Oklahoma Foundation, and Kansas State University Foundation hold stock currently valued at roughly $70 million each. The gift makes the foundations nonvoting majority shareholders in Oklahoma’s largest supplier of ready-mix concrete, crushed stone, gravel and sand.

“Roger Dolese’s forward-thinking approach to benefitting engineering programs for decades to come will make a profound impact at Oklahoma State,” says OSU President Burns Hargis. “Being able to provide additional scholarships for our students and recruit outstanding faculty members will allow us to increase the number of highly trained engineers in this competitive field.”

Dolese officials say the gift is the result of the vision of the late Roger Dolese who died in 2002. As part of Mr. Dolese’s plan to keep the company privately owned and increase the number of engineers coming from nearby universities, he finalized the charitable partnership prior to his death.

“At Dolese we value our employees and the communities that we impact,” said Mark Helm, president of Dolese Bros. Co. “Every day Dolese delivers products that make everything from the roads you drive on, the offices you work in, the schools you learn in, and the foundation of the home where you live. This gift is a true testament of how Dolese delivers on our commitment to our employees, the communities we serve and planning for the future.”

Each year Dolese Bros. will buy back at least $500,000 worth of stock from the foundations so the universities can use the money to enhance their engineering programs and significantly grow the number of engineering graduates from each school. Company officials refer to the gift as a type of long-term annuity that will also eventually lead to the company being 100 percent employee owned.

“This visionary gift to Kansas State University aligns with our current initiative to significantly increase the number of engineering graduates,” says Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz. “The opportunities this gift creates for scholarships and student retention programming are unprecedented and support K-State’s vision to become a top 50 public research university by 2025. We are so grateful to the Dolese Company’s novel and generous gift.”

While each university has multiple academic programs in engineering, the University of Oklahoma has a focus on chemical and civil engineering. Oklahoma State is particularly strong in mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Kansas State University is experiencing record-setting enrollment growth in all engineering degree programs.

“The size and durability of this gift will have generational impact on the College of Engineering at OU,” says Guy Patton, president of the University of Oklahoma Foundation Inc.

Company officials say it’s their hope the foundations will receive more than the current stock value and the impact on the three engineering programs will be even greater as a result.

At Oklahoma State, the gift was originally rolled out privately in 2010, and strongly contributed to a 30 percent enrollment increase in the university’s engineering disciplines the past three years. The gift has inspired OSU to commit to hiring 50 new faculty members in the engineering college over the next five years.

At OU, the gift supports retention scholarships and other effective methods of increasing the engineering workforce. This year, the funds permitted doubling the number of incoming students in a summer camp that is proven to boost retention through math readiness, team projects and orientation to college life.

At Kansas State, the gift has already contributed to a strategic plan to increase the number of engineering graduates by 39 percent over 10 years. It has also boosted engineering student support programs and scholarships, which will strengthen retention and graduation rates.